Phenomenological Study: Retention of First Generation African American College Students in Georgia

Phenomenological Study: Retention of First Generation African American College Students in Georgia

Author: 
LaRetha Spain
Program of study: 
Ph.D./HEA
Abstract: 
First-generation college students have different backgrounds and experiences from other college students and often drop out of college than continuing-generation students (Ishitani & Snider, 2004; Lohfink & Paulsen, 2005). Attrition rates for first-generation students are a concern for leaders in higher education institutions throughout the country. Leadership in these higher education institutions needs an understanding of what may be effective to increase the retention and attrition of first-generation, African American students. The purpose of this qualitative, hermeneutic phenomenological study was to gain information pertaining to barriers that affect first-generation, African American undergraduate college students that impact on their decision to leave college before graduation. The problem was that many first-generation African American students do not successfully graduate in four years from college. More research was needed to learn about the pressures that impede their academic persistence and challenges to retention. A qualitative, hermeneutic phenomenological methodology explored the lived experiences of first-generation, Africa American students. Research data was collected through oneon-one interviews and questionnaire. The results of the study found family and community support, student barriers toward completion, campus relationships, the negative environment, and the need for a program on campus can help first-generation, African American college students to persist at college. These findings could be used to improve the retention rates of first-generation, African American college students and contribute to the literature on the attrition, retention, and persistence of first-generation college students.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this dissertation to my daughter, Brianna. You have been a source of inspiration and a gift from God, who challenges me to be the best women, mother, and educator I can be. Thank you for your patience, love, and understanding when I had to put in long hours and weekends to complete my work. I love you more than you will ever know. I dedicate this dissertation to my parents (Robert and Eleanor), and my grandparents (Helen and William “Hazel”). It takes a village to raise a child, and I had a family who did just that. You instilled the importance of education and provided me with support. My village includes my aunts (Phyllis, Alicia, Celia, Brenda, and Henrietta), and uncles (Willie, Holiday, Harold, and Sam). Your guidance, love, and prayers have and continue to sustain me. Thank all of you from the bottom of my heart for always being there for me. I could not ask for a better village. I love each of you. To my friends and extended family, I thank you for having a listening ear and encouraging me. I want to thank my University of Phoenix cohorts who understood my journey and kept me optimistic. I love all of you.
Acknowledgements: 
I must first acknowledge God because without Him; this would not have been possible. My constant prayer to complete this degree did not go unheard. I want to make a special thank you to my chair Dr. Nancy Greer-Williams, who guided me through this process. Your leadership, inspiration, and sincere support were essential in my accomplishing this goal. I appreciate the friendship we have come to develop. You kept in constant communications with me and became a kindred spirit as I progress through each phase of my dissertation, thank you. Thank you to my committee members for the support that you have given me, you played a vital role in this process. Dr. Barbara Turner, you join my team at the most important time, and I cannot thank you enough for stepping in without giving me a second thought. Dr. Donyell Roseboro, you became a guiding force and have always been there for me. The contributions both of you made were invaluable. I would like to thank each participant who shared their experiences. Thank you for lending your time and for assisting me with completing my dissertation. Your experiences have inspired me to continue my work in education so I can enhance the educational experiences of African American youth. Thank you!