This phenomenological case study of finding meaning explored the developmental nature of Pepperdine University’s Doctor of Education in Organization Change (EDOC) program through graduates, who as students, found deep, visceral, and life changing meaning. The primary request of participants, identified as co-inquirers, was to: describe in as much detail as possible how meaning was found through their participation in the EDOC program. Detailed storied descriptions from 10 graduates were gathered through interviews. Anecdotes were gathered by email from other graduates concerning the meaning found, relational experiences, and vivid program experiences. In my analysis of data, I explicated the structure (the relationship among the most invariant constituents of the phenomenon) and meaning (implications) from their lived experience. Though particulars differed, the interview data revealed a structure surrounding each of the ten co-inquirers as being (a) self-aware learners who joined the program with assumptions concerning the challenging nature of the learning experience; (b) a socially constructed environment that facilitates the formation of relational sets and community engagement; (c) deep and rich dialogic relationships among participants within the learning community; (d) co-constructed learning through collaboration with faculty and fellow students; (e) abundant free-space in learning enabling the transcendence of boundaries to personal growth; (f) an immensely helping and caring environment; (g) significant opportunities to challenge and broaden worldviews through program experiences; and (h) consistent validation of progress toward personal, educational and life goals. In coming to understand the phenomenon for finding meaning, I used descriptive phenomenology and given my presence as a student in the program being studied, I offered my own observations. I framed propositions from the study’s findings for progressive educators and organization development professions. Meaning found led to life changes such as improved personal and professional effectiveness, a deeper sense of self and self-worth, a clearer view of the world, and an ability to enact what had been taken from the experience; a significant educational outcome in addition to cognitive competencies, field knowledge and application. Those who have experienced the program came away with a deeper sense of purpose and far reaching capabilities to serve.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organization change; Dissertations (EdD) -- Organization change; Doctoral students; Doctor of education degree; Pepperdine University -- Graduate students

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Murrell, Kenneth L.;