Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version

Fall 11-11-2013


Morrison Goings, A. (2013). Experiences of Community College Vocational Students Who Were Required to Begin their Studies by Taking Remedial Courses and Successfully Attained their Associate’s Degrees: A Phenomenological Study (Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from DigitalCommons@University of Nebraska – Lincoln, Lincoln NE.


A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Education, Major: Higher Education Administration, Under the Supervision of Professor Brent Cejda. Lincoln, Nebraska: October, 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Amy M. Morrison Goings


The Great Recession and national skills gap crisis have reframed community college efforts to shift from access-based institutions to that of persistence and completion-focused colleges. Within the post-recession context, this research examines what success looks like for today’s vocational community college student, as well as the current research on the barriers to completion. This qualitative, phenomenological study will explore the experiences of community college students who are graduating with vocational degrees and how they overcame known barriers to complete their degrees. In addition to summarizing the responses to each of the sub-questions, three primary themes emerged from the research that further answer the grand tour question. These themes are summarized as follows: First, faculty as champions of degree completion; second, motivation and creativity; and third, switching paths.

The path dependence theory framework affords a greater appreciation for how the critical path switch in the lives of students prior to beginning their community college tenure assisted them with beginning their college career and persisting through until graduation. Along this optimal path, students are greatly supported by classroom faculty and faculty advisors who validate their role as scholars and champion degree completion. The goal of this research is to be of further assistance to community college leaders and their advocates as they strive to increase completion rates.

Advisor: Brent Cejda