Date of Award



© 2016 Mary Patterson

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Brianna Parsons

Second Advisor

Michael Patrick

Third Advisor

Rhonda Grego


This study sought to understand the perspectives of two-year college composition faculty concerning the persistence of students in their developmental composition courses. Research has shown that developmental students are a population at risk for leaving college before completing their degree programs and that students are more likely to persist to reach their goals when they’ve built meaningful connections with faculty. Many factors affect faculty ability to connect with developmental students such as faculty history, teaching preparation, and work load.

This study answered four research questions: 1) how do faculty describe and perceive their experience in encouraging developmental students to persist? 2) How do faculty recognize and understand the needs of developmental students? 3) How do faculty understand their preparedness for teaching developmental students? 4) What factors (if any) in regards to faculty working conditions do faculty perceive to affect their ability to help developmental students persist?

The researcher conducted interviews of thirteen developmental composition faculty at a two-year college using the qualitative case study method to determine how faculty perceived their efforts to help developmental students persist. From this case study, four major themes regarding faculty perspectives emerged: 1) faculty workload impacted experience and engagement with developmental students, 2) faculty placed high importance on hands-on training, 3) faculty history influenced their professional practice, and 4) faculty provided students with emotional and cognitive support.

From these themes, the researcher determined the following recommendations: consider ways that developmental composition faculty can better support student persistence when building professional development opportunities for the department; develop more in-depth pre-service programs and mentoring opportunities for developmental composition instructors, especially for new teachers and adjuncts; re-examine placement and possibly co-requisite “studio” approach for developmental students scoring just below the college level cutoff in placement tests; when hiring new faculty, weigh their teaching experiences and motivations as heavily as their graduate degree specialty and publications; advocate for policy changes at the state, college, and department level that support the success of developmental students; encourage opportunities for classroom discussion regarding race, class, gender, and educational equality in support of social justice and equitable change in the college and surrounding community. This study adds to a growing body of research connecting faculty working conditions and teaching preparation with student persistence.


Ed.D. Dissertation