Culminating Project Title
Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
Higher Education Administration: Ed.D.
Educational Administration and Higher Education
School of Education
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.
Keywords and Subject Headings
Swirling, educational journey, persistence, retention, educational interruptions
Many students who wish to receive a post-secondary undergraduate degree do not take a linear path. Instead, they opt for a multiple educational institution pathway (swirling) to accomplish an undergraduate degree. Unfortunately, swirling has its complexities and challenges, and many students will drop out of college and not return to obtain a degree. While there is research on this growing population, there is little specifically from the viewpoint of the student, thus lacking the complete story from the swirling students themselves. This study adds to the literature on swirling students and to understanding the cognitive, social, and institutional challenges and supports they encountered along the way.
The purpose of this qualitative narrative inquiry study was to investigate the experiences of students who attended multiple educational institutions (swirling) and successfully transitioned into a four-year public urban university and completed an undergraduate degree. Six participants, in their last semester before graduation, volunteered to participate in this study. This study will reveal each participant’s swirling journey, including the education interruptions and re-entries they experienced. Emerging themes will be revealed that include high school preparation, individual persistence, family influences, and institutional barriers and supports. The participant journey themes provide a glimpse into the individual struggles with racial inequity, English as a second language, and uncertainty of a career focus and expose institutional lack of communication and instructional care. The study will offer advice for students and provide practical suggestions for educational institution instruction, student services, and policy that may assist swirling students in their persistence to degree completion.
Hirsch, Steven A., "Swirling to Graduation: Student Reflections on their Educational Journey" (2020). Culminating Projects in Higher Education Administration. 44.