Degree Date


Document Type

Dissertation - Public Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Academic Discipline

Community College Leadership


Community college students, more often than not, face challenges not typical to those of traditional-aged students. They are more likely to attend part-time, tend to be the least academically prepared, more financially challenged, often working, and have a greater likelihood of being single parents. What drives these students to not only graduate from the community college, but go on to continue at four-year institutions? Also, how do these students define, or come to “make meaning” of the force that drives their persistence in higher education?

The purpose of this study examines the relationship between spirituality and persistence of Illinois community college students who matriculate to the baccalaureate degree granting institution. The research questions ask the following: (1) How is spirituality defined by community college students who persist?, (2) For community college students who persist, how do they come to “make meaning” of their educational journey?, and (3) What is the relationship between spirituality and community college student persistence?

The study utilized qualitative case study methodology employing three separate phases: (1) Survey Questionnaire, (2) Guided Focus Group Discussion, and (3), Face-to-Face Interviews. Responses from the survey questionnaire were coded, further segmented and used to determine those survey participants who would receive invitations for the guided focus group discussion. The guided focus group discussion was recorded and conversation transcribed so that the researcher might establish recurring patterns and emerging themes. From those focus group discussion participants, three participants were selected to take part in the face-to-face interview portion of the study. Through the course of these three phases of data collection, the researcher was able to establish valid conclusions about the relationship between spirituality and community college student persistence.