Highland Community College

Highland Perry Center Director Receives Dissertation Award

Highland Perry Center Director Receives Dissertation Award

Highland Perry Center Director Receives Dissertation Award

Dr. Erin Shaw, Highland Community College Perry Center Director, received the 2015 Barbara K. Townsend Dissertation Award last week at the 13th Annual Conference of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) in Atlanta, Georgia.  Shaw’s dissertation was a transcendental phenomenology titled Sense Making for Community College Transfers Entering a Public, Liberal Arts University. Her study focused on the experiences of mid-year community college transfer students as they entered and made sense of a public, liberal arts university.

Transcendental phenomenology refers primarily to the work of Edmund Husserl and his early assistants Edith Stein and Eugen Fink. Husserl’s pathbreaking work on phenomenology inspired the thinking of many scholars and the development of various movements. Husserl often used the words “transcendental” and “phenomenology” interchangeably to describe the special method of the finding the basic components to describe the phenomena.

Dr. Shaw explored how her participants came to be community college transfer students, their transition experience, and their reflections on what being a transfer student meant to them. The essences of the experience of being a mid-year community college transfer student included:  facing academic challenges, finding balance, becoming independent, feeling lost, and feeling pressed for time.

This dissertation award was established in memory of Dr. Barbara Townsend, a leading scholar in transfer student and community college research. NISTS’s criteria for the award includes the significance of the dissertation topic to the advancement of knowledge and service to transfer students. Shaw was especially honored to receive this award as Townsend was her first Ph.D. advisor at the University of Missouri.

Shaw completed her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis in May 2014 while working as an academic advisor at Truman State University. She began her duties as Director of Highland’s Perry Center on October 1, 2014. 

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