Theses and Dissertations

Do College Faculty Impact Undergraduate Persistence? A Phenomenological Experiential Analysis of Perspectives from Undergraduate Students

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name



Educational Leadership

Committee Chair

Peggy M. Delmas, Ph.D.


This phenomenological study investigated the impact of instructors on undergraduate college students’ intent to persist to graduation at their current university. College students, as stakeholders in higher education, possess relevant insights and viewpoints regarding faculty’s role in their motivation to remain at their institutions until graduation. Seventeen undergraduate students enrolled at a midsized public university in the Southeastern United States participated in this study by completing an open-ended qualitative survey about their instructors’ impact on their collegiate journeys. Experiential thematic analysis commenced with the steps proposed by Braun and Clarke (2006). The researcher became familiarized with the raw data, created codes, found emergent themes, reviewed the data and themes, and named and distinguished themes. Themes encompassed depictions of instructors’ positive and negative qualities, behaviors, and characteristics divided into subcategories with the words care/cared, help/helps/ helped/helpful, feel/felt/feeling, and made/make. Participants gave accounts of positive and negative experiences with instructors and perceptions of the impact of characteristics and behaviors of instructors on their college experiences. Findings indicated that students believed instructors influenced their intent to persist or leave their current institution.

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