First Advisor

John Nimmo

Term of Graduation

Spring 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction


Curriculum & Instruction




Community college students, Academic achievement, Early childhood educators -- Training of, Head Start programs



Physical Description

1 online resource (vii, 248 pages)


The U.S. federally funded Head Start programs serve more than one million low-income children and their families each year in education and health programs. Historically there have been few requirements for formal education for Head Start teachers. In response to research linking teacher education and outcomes for children, increased educational requirements were included in the program funding reauthorizations in recent decades. For a variety of reasons, community college early childhood education programs are a logical place for those already employed by Head Start to improve their qualifications. At the same time, these institutions tend to have low graduation rates, and the Head Start employed students are likely to experience many of the barriers other adult learners face in pursuing their associate degrees. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe and explore the experiences of a small group of Head Start employed students who earned their associate degrees in community college early childhood education programs. Five themes emerged in the study that illuminate the barriers these students faced and the factors that contributed to their success. Specifically, the findings make evident that the participants were juggling complex lives, benefited from support from their "whole world," and experienced an evolving sense of self-belief. Based on these findings, I argue that community colleges must know the Head Start employed student, and, further, all students, and design programs and offer resources that meet their needs. Additionally, the findings imply the necessity to involve faculty in these student success efforts.


© 2021 R. Taylor

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