Forging their way : the experience of single fathers on a community college campus Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/q811kn44f

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  • The purpose of this study was to understand the experiences of single fathers attending a community college. Single fathers comprise one-fifth of all single parent families, yet little research has been done on this growing segment of the population. A phenomenological approach was utilized to examine the attributes, needs, and challenges facing single fathers who were community college students. Seven single fathers attending a community college in the Northwest participated in this study. The fathers had primary responsibility for raising their children, had been enrolled at least half-time, and were attending the college for a minimum of one year. Data were collected through individual in-depth interviews and a focus group. Seven main themes emerged from the data: 1) Ambivalence, 2) Stability, 3) Finding support, 4) Mattering, 5) Success Factors, 6) Barriers, and 7) How the college can assist single father students. Three factors were identified as a result of the study. (1) Attending community college improved family relationships. The flexibility of class scheduling allowed the fathers to spend more time with their children. (2) The experience of single fathers and single mothers attending community college are remarkably similar, with the exception of how each accessed support networks. Single fathers were much less likely to initially identify and utilize support networks. (3) How single fathers viewed their identity and their definition of masculinity changed. Prior to attending community college, their primary identity was related to their work. As students, their identity shifted to being recognized as good students and good fathers.
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