Completion & Barriers: A Phenomenological Study of Female Community College Students

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Leadership for Organizations


Department of Educational Administration


Davin Carr-Chellman


This action study investigated the experiences of current female students, recent female graduates, and female dropouts of a rural community college in Appalachian Ohio to determine what factors led to successful college completion. Although female enrollment exceeds male enrollment, females currently and consistently rank below their male counterparts in key performance indicators. Through the frameworks of the Funds of Knowledge, the Characteristics of Marianist Universities, and Brooks’ Critical Theory of Love, this study used interviews in a phenomenological design to gather participant data on their lived experience within their unique context. Results of the study yielded rich qualitative data which helps to better understand the root causes contributing to lower retention and degree completion rates among female students at Appalachian River Community College. The focused data informed the creation of an action plan aimed at providing interventions for female students. This study and related research highlight instances in localized communities of gender inequity in community college completion, the crucial impact of support systems for female students, and programs employed to reduce the gender gap


community college, college access, female students, Appalachia, rural colleges, gender inequity, college completion, enrollment

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