Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy


Education, Educational Leadership & Policy Studies

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Kent Farnsworth, PhD


Dixie Kohn

David O'Brien

Shawn Woodhouse


This study investigated the enrollment motivations of developmental reading course repeaters at St. Louis Community College (STLCC) who are judged to be highly unlikely to exit the developmental reading sequence by their instructors and/or counselors in the Access Office, the office that assists students with disabilities. This three-phase study consisted of interviewing STLCC students in this population (Phase I) and surveying their parents (Phase II), as well as surveying fulltime reading faculty and Access counselors at STLCC (Phase III) to ascertain their opinions of the Phase I and Phase II findings and to collect their opinions on a range of possible institutional responses. Six themes emerged from Phase I data that explain why these students initially enroll in college and persist despite repeated failure. They enroll because they believe they are intellectually capable students; to earn degrees to improve their self-worth; to earn degrees to improve their employability; because they are inspired by and/or prompted by others to do so; to meet their social needs; and, to some degree by default.Six additional themes emerged that explain why these students specifically choose to attend STLCC. They make STLCC their college choice to take advantage of the extensive array of academic support services known to be offered especially at community colleges; to continue benefiting from the important daily support their live-in advocates provide; to attend a specific STLCC campus because it is in close proximity to their home; because STLCC’s open enrollment policy provides them their only opportunity to enroll as a college student; because STLCC is affordable; and because of STLCC’s reputation as a quality institution of higher education.

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