Graduate Program

College Student Affairs

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Semester of Degree Completion


Thesis Director

Richard L. Roberts


This qualitative, phenomenological study was designed to learn more about how first-generation, minority community college students perceive the meaning, barriers, and value of developmental education. Five participants were interviewed in a semi-structured format. The results provided nuanced and personal accounts from students who revealed that developmental education affects their feelings of self-efficacy, that systemic financial challenges are consistent barriers to success, and that the connections between teachers and their students, or lack thereof, are perceived to have an impact on the usefulness of developmental education. Finally, results indicated the importance of working with students individually to understand how their ethnic identity may influence their experiences, as well as the usefulness of a practical model like Schlossberg's transition theory in providing support for disadvantaged students in navigating developmental education. The findings present possible avenues for future research and suggest some recommendations that may be useful to administrators and professionals as they work to create better opportunities for academic success for students in developmental education.