Dissertation Defense - Stephanie Woods

A gaze on belonging: Investigating rural preservice teachers’ experiences at a flagship university

Researchers have reported an urban/rural higher educational achievement gap dating back to the 1970s. However, few studies have explored the college-going behaviors of rural students. When rural students attend large universities, they often feel cultural and social tensions between their rural community norms and their college experiences, in part due to their non-rural counterparts' lack of knowledge of rurality. A well-documented predictor of success in higher education is the development of a sense of belonging, or connectedness, to the university. I investigated how Rural Preservice Teachers (RPST) developed a sense of belonging at a flagship university in my grounded theory study. Perspectives of college belonging were explored in three waves of data collection, which primarily consisted of semi-structured interviews of both rural and urban students. I used Strayhorn’s (2019) model of college student sense of belonging as a theoretical framework for this study, as this model was based on his research on marginalized populations, primarily ethnic/racial minorities in higher education. My emergent model complements current understandings of college belongingness for cultural minorities at large public universities. I posit the need to recognize that RPSTs are perceived to be on the fringes of campus culture, and the dimension of reconceptualizing community goals must be considered when investigating RPST belongingness.

Zoom: https://bit.ly/3dtdma

Committee Members: Dr. David Bergin, Dr. Stephen Whitney, Dr. Matthew Easter, Dr. Tony Castro

Sponsored by the Department of Educational, School, & Counseling Psychology

Thursday, April 15 at 10:30am

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Students, Faculty, Research

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Contact Name

Stephanie Woods

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