This dissertation examines the role of the faculty-student interaction in the perceived sense of belonging first generation students experience while attending 2-year community college. While Strayhorn’s (2012) definition of sense of belonging is referenced this researcher has developed a diagram that focuses on the sense of belonging that focuses specifically on the 2-year community college student due to the fact that the theoretical frameworks regarding sense of belonging focus, primarily, on the perception of belonging among college students attending residential 4-year colleges and universities. The sense of belonging for first-generation, community college students suggests that a student’s perceived sense of belonging (what is referred to as internal) is influenced by the faculty-student interaction; particularly by the external (what is referred to as behavioral) actions of faculty. The first-generation student’s perception of belonging, those students whose parents do not have a college degree, will be discussed; in particular, the research examines the experiences of first-generation African American and Latino, community college, students. The perceptions of belonging were uncovered through the use of one on one interviews and an examination of the 2014 responses by first-generation students to the University of Texas (2015) Community College Survey on Student Engagement (CCSSE). This is not a true mixed methods study as the data from CCSSE was used for reporting purposes only. The focus on the lived experience provided this study with rich and insightful material that adds to the limited body of research related to the community college as a post-secondary institution.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Minority students; First-generation college students; Community college students; Teacher-student relationships

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Bortman, Lisa;