Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Leadership, Research and Counseling

Document Type



This study examined the persistence of students with a GED in four-year institutions. Qualitative research methods were employed to better understand the experiences of GED recipients relative to their progress towards baccalaureate degrees. The theoretical framework for this study was symbolic interactionism. Data were collected in two phases. After a pilot study, Phase I data collection consisted of two focus group interviews with three participants each from two institutions in Louisiana. For Phase II, 10 GED recipients at each university were engaged in semi-structured, in-depth interviews, photography, photo elicitation interviews, and document analysis of students’records. The data were analyzed using Lincoln and Guba’s (1985) Constant Comparative Method. The themes that evolved from the data were (1) quitting is not an option, (2) I just can’t go back, (3) family influences, (4) faculty influences, (5) age, (6) math anxiety, (7) developmental education, (8) time on task, and (9) spirituality. Comparatively, “I just can’t go back” was only prevalent with most of the African American males. The need to support a family was stated by more female GED recipients than males. The older GED recipients were persisting in college for more idealistic reasons, such as their desire to change the world and make it a better place. Overall, most of the GED recipients were academically integrated into the university setting, with very limited social integration. Yet, the participants of this study provided rich evidence that GED recipients have many diverse experiences that affect their persistence in four-year institutions.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Becky Ropers-Huilman



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