Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Higher and Adult Education


Higher Education

Committee Chair

John C. Smart

Committee Member

Beverly E Cross

Committee Member

Larry McNeal

Committee Member

William L. Akey


In the later part of the twentieth century, the continued growth in high school and college dropout rates led to the development of educational reform measures that would address an education model that was seen as applicable to a disproportionate percentage of the nation’s students, thereby leaving the majority of schools and their students to struggle (Simmons, 2008). Efforts to increase matriculation between secondary and postsecondary institutions must be connected at all levels of education, which is critical to educational reform—worldwide (Zhou, 2008). Due to its ability to increase the rigor of high school curriculum, an increasingly favored measure of educational reform is the opportunity to allow high school students to enroll in college courses—dual enrollment (Bradley, 2007). The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the academic experiences of a marginalized population of students that were participants in a dual enrollment program in order to identify the precollegiate experiences that may have influenced their college readiness and persistence.To gauge the perspective of program participants, a qualitativecase study was employed usingphenomenological theory. Participants shared their academic experiences through an open-ended survey, focus group sessions, and interviews. The results demonstrated the ways dual enrollment may affect the college readiness and persistence of marginalized students by not only encouraging them to participate in dual enrollment programs but also by giving program participants full access to the college experience while enrolled in high school, including use of college resources, access to additional courses, and inclusion of currently enrolled college undergraduates in classes with dual enrollment students. In addition, dual enrollment assists participants thought to be “at-risk” by helping them understand their academic preferences pertaining to collegiate educational development, making them more confident in their college-selection efforts, and also motivating their integration in both the academic and social aspects of college life. Considering that all of the participants in this study were accepted into four-year institutions and over 95% of them are still actively enrolled in college, this study demonstrates that dual enrollment programs also assist marginalized students in their college readiness and persistence, just as previous research demonstrates it has for White and “advanced” students. With the support of dual enrollment programs, many marginalized and at-risk students, who in the past would have not considered reaching beyond their gazes, can be afforded greater opportunities.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.