Renegotiating Identity: Understanding the Communicative Negotiation of Community College Transfer Student Identities

Doctoral Candidate Name: 
Brandy Stamper
Educational Leadership

This phenomenological study explored the identity experiences of fifteen community college transfer (CCT) students one year after they transitioned to a large, public four-year institution. The purpose of the study was to understand how CCT students’ lived experiences inform their student identities. The communication theory of identity (CTI), served as the study’s theoretical framework, focusing on the manifestation of identities through communicative interactions and expressions with others. Primary data collection occurred through two rounds of semi-structured interviews with each participant. Data analysis followed a procedure of categorizing the participants' statements into meaning units that represented the layers of identity being examined. The process of data categorization, reduction, and theme identification resulted in two overarching themes, four subthemes, and 16 distinct identity manifestations. The first theme demonstrated that CCT students engage in careful and purposeful positive student identity development behaviors while in community college. The second overall theme illustrated how CCT students renegotiated their previously formed student identities at their four-year receiving institution. The study's findings provide possible student engagement and institutional-based suggestions on how to serve CCT students. The conclusions drawn from the study and their implications for theory and practice are also presented.

Defense Date and Time: 
Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 10:00am
Defense Location: 
Virtual: Contact for the Zoom Link
Committee Chair's Name: 
Dr. Ryan Miller
Committee Members: 
Dr. Mark D'Amico, Dr. Leslie Zenk, Dr. Cliff Scott