Community college success coaching : a phenomenological exploration.


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The purpose of this study was to develop an in-depth understanding of the essence of the emerging success coach profession and to understand how these community college student affairs staff members articulate and analyze the process of developing their students’ success. The role of community college success coach only recently emerged and these practitioners’ perspectives about what comprises student success in this context remain underexplored. Furthermore, the empirical community college student affairs literature continues to remain “downright skimpy” (Creamer, 1994, p. 9). This study was especially poignant in light of the Community College Completion Agenda’s work to increase community college student success rates, which are commonly quantified by increased retention, GPA, and transfer rates. Most of the current theories about community college student success do not entail a thorough understanding of the roles that community college student affairs professionals fill in helping their students to become successful. In turn, the dominant theories about student success primarily concentrate on promoting student academic success, and do not typically explore what it may mean for students to be successful outside of their educational endeavors. This study aimed to present a robust understanding of what community college student success means from the perspectives of those employed to facilitate this construct: the community college success coaches themselves. By using an interpretative phenomenological approach, this study gathered the experiences of community college success coaches to promote their students’ success. I also explored my participants’ perspectives about the ultimate goals of success coaching,especially regarding the relative lack of information about the success coaches’ potential roles in developing their students’ success outside of their academic endeavors. Through interviews, supported by document analysis, I provided a more holistic understanding of the ultimate purposes of this emerging student affairs function within the community college setting. I compared my participants’ perspectives to the current philosophies about community colleges success to understand how these theories may need to be modified to account for my participants’ lived experiences. I concluded by making specific recommendations as to ways that this practice should be augmented by current theories about community college student success.



Success coaching. Student affairs. Community college. Student success. Phenomenology.