Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning, Leadership and Change

First Advisor

Ronald E. Hallett

First Committee Member

Rod P. Githens

Second Committee Member

Adrianna J. Kezar


Despite decades of research and billions of dollars spent per annum to promote at-promise student—that is, low-income, first-generation, and/or racially/ethnically minoritized students—college success, at-promise students continue to be retained and graduate at lower rates than their traditionally college-going peers. The purpose of this study is to investigate how faculty coordinators in the Thompson Scholars Learning Community (TSLC) facilitate and integrate instructors into the program’s ecological validation which has been found to promote at-promise student success. This study is framed by the ecological validation model of student success in conjunction with a systems theory perspective of faculty roles to investigate how TSLC’s faculty coordinators support instructors to engage in high-quality interactions with at-promise students. This qualitative multiple-case study utilizes 56 semi-structured interviews with faculty coordinators, TSLC program directors, and TSLC instructors, as well as observations and documents, from three University of Nebraska campuses to triangulate its findings.

Results indicate the importance of the mesolevel role faculty coordinators play in both students and instructors’ ecologies. Three primary ideas emerged. First, faculty coordinators helped bridge instructors to campus and program resources which promoted attentiveness to student needs, the adoption of validating teaching practices, and grew instructor affinity with the program. Moreover, faculty coordinators helped departments understand the program and its students which empowered them to assign good instructors. Second, faculty coordinators helped align instructors’ personal, practitioner, and professional goals with their teaching in the program by working with instructors and departmental leadership to contextualize instructors’ work within TSLC as promoting student success, professionally developing, and beneficially for the department. Third, faculty coordinators influenced instructor pedagogy by encouraging validating teaching practices, demonstrating validating approaches, and serving as single points of contact for instructors. As single points of contacts for instructors, faculty coordinators were able to promote attentiveness to student issues by distributing the responsibility for supporting students across the students’ mesolevel—that is, throughout the program, their other instructors, and campus resources. Results also indicate potential avenues for how institutions can structure supports for instructors to scale TSLC’s ecological validation, including the creation of single points of contacts for instructors, the creation of validating incubators, and the importance of linking trainings with mesolevel supports.





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