Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Educational Leadership


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Johnson, Ane Turner

Committee Member 1

Walpole, Marybeth

Committee Member 2

Rose, Steven M.


case study, community cultural wealth, developmental education, low socioeconomic status, Pierre Bourdieu, validation


Underprepared community college students


Higher Education


Underprepared urban community college students from low socioeconomic backgrounds face numerous challenges as they pursue a college degree. They can have weak academic skills that places them in non-college credited developmental education courses, which many do not complete. This qualitative case study used Bourdieu’s (1977) theories of cultural capital, habitus, field, and practice as a critical test of a significant theory (Yin, 2009) to understand how the interaction between the urban community college and these students positioned the students’ educational outcomes. Developmental reading/writing courses were observed. Students enrolled in these courses, faculty who taught the courses, and administrators who interacted with developmental students were individually interviewed. Students’ final grades in the courses were used to determine students’ educational outcomes. Themes identified included the influence of low socioeconomic status on education (Bourdieu, 1990), which led to a collision of cultures (Carter, 2003) within the institution and challenges to faculty pedagogy. This study showed how the transformational aspect of Bourdieuian Theory (1977, 1990), along with students’ Community College Wealth (Yosso, 2005) and institutional validation of the students’ personal culture (Rendon, 1994), can inform students’ educational outcomes.