Date of Award

Fall 2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Foundations & Leadership

Committee Director

Alan Schwitzer (Director)

Committee Member

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Mitchell Williams


Student identity development is an important aspect of college life for traditional age college students and may influence learning. Sense of community in online courses may also promote learning. A non-experimental, correlational research design was used to determine how student identity development and sense of community independently and together predict academic adjustment. Traditional-age students, 18-25, from ten rural-serving, suburban-serving, or urban-serving community colleges in a Southeastern state in the United States who had taken distance learning courses and a minimum of twelve credits were administered three survey instruments during spring or fall semester. The Student Developmental Task & Lifestyle Assessment was used to measure level of student identity development and was completed by 111 students. The Classroom Community Scale was used to measure sense of classroom community, and the Academic Adjustment subscale of the Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire was used to measure perceived academic adjustment. Each was completed by 169 students. Chickering’s theory of student identity development provided a framework for the research.

A moderate positive correlation was found between achievement of student identity development and perceived academic adjustment, between student sense of classroom community and perceived academic adjustment, and between the two constructs together and student perceived academic adjustment. Additional research is needed to fully examine the relationships among student identity development, classroom community, and academic adjustment.