First-Year Postsecondary Reading Comprehension: Case Study of Student Perceptions

Date of Award

Fall 11-27-2019

Document Type

Restricted Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Trish Lichau, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

John D'Aguanno, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Julia Britt, Ed.D.


The intention of this qualitative study was to investigate the reading comprehension strategies that first-year postsecondary students use for comprehending complex college-level text and their perception of their reading efficacy of academic texts. This is significant because there are students entering higher education without the necessary skills to succeed in reading college-level text. The research design was an exploratory case study. Research participants are first-year college students from a rural, open enrollment, public, Midwestern institution. The researcher seeks to examine first-year college students’ perceptions of the strategies that they use to read and understand their college textbooks and materials and their efficacy in comprehending their textbooks and materials. The researcher utilized repeated semistructured and open-ended interviews as a way to develop a deeper understanding of the students’ experience. The goal was to understand current college students’ realities as they used reading strategies to comprehend complex text. The data were analyzed utilizing descriptive and In Vivo coding. Through the interviews the data confirmed 15 themes: ways students feel they are better readers, ways students read difficult material, what students understand during reading, what students understand following/after reading, how students learn material, connections students make while reading text, student reading experiences, ways students segment their reading, steps students use to read text, strategies students use to learn text, how students feel textbooks are useful, types of text that students read, when do students read, with whom do students read, and professor strategies to help students with text.

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