Date of Award



© 2016 Tanyanika Mattos

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Michelle Collay

Second Advisor

Ella Benson

Third Advisor

Allen Farina


This phenomenological research study explored eight Southeastern community college instructors communicating with first-generation college students, specifically the lived experiences of community college instructors as they taught developmental education. The participated included a lawyer, health care executive, and engineer, psychologist, bookkeeper, health sciences professional, and education specialist and computer information systems professional. Pre-interviews, interviews and an electronic survey were utilized to obtain the data on the phenomenon. This phenomenological data analysis process offered a structured analysis process that is reflective and grounded in vibrant descriptions. During the interview, all forms were used to document responses of interviewees. The interviews were interpreted in real context, transcribed, and emergent themes were identified. Next, categories were created using these emergent themes, and subcategories were also created. Once emergent themes were identified, textual descriptions were outlined, using instructor experiences of communicating with students. The themes that came from the text of the interviews revealed the instructors’ experiences communicating with developmental education students. The observation protocol was retained as part of the study for future and comparative research use. Two critical themes emerged from the transcribed interviews. (1) College instructors’ lived experiences communicating with first-generation college students at brick and mortar community colleges can be found in the context of instructions, as predicated by their various perceptions on subjects such as workload, class size, student engagement, fostering motivation in the classroom and mental health/student support services. (2) Community college instructors perceive their role in communicating with first-generation students as an intricate part in communication success and challenges with first generation college students. Instructors shared their experiences using strategies to support student success and to overcome challenges in communicating with first-generation college students, regarding expectations of instructor availability, ongoing communication of student expectations, access to technology, literacy and academic dishonesty can be found by observing their vastly different instructor strategies. Their approaches to helping students negotiate higher education reflect the tenets of transformative leadership. Transformative leadership theory presents the idea that we can lead in current roles, in pursuit of the greater good- going beyond our personal needs for social benefit.


Ed.D. Dissertation