Date of Award

Spring 5-2-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Andrew Courtner

Second Advisor

Alexander Parks

Third Advisor

James McAllister


The purpose of this study was to examine the pre-college arts experiences of Appalachian college students who participated in place-based and non-place-based performance arts ensembles and, using a qualitative research approach informed by Kuh et al.’s (2005) study on positive student engagement, understand the influence that participation in these ensembles might have on Appalachian students who are the first in their generation to pursue higher education. In this study, the researcher examined student data from 28 first-generation, Appalachian college students who responded to an online survey, and 11 who volunteered to participate in-depth, personal interviews. All the student participants were enrolled at one of three private institutions in Central Appalachia. Based on data generalized from this study the researcher concluded that ensemble participation positively influenced students’ ability to engage with their college environment by facilitating valued relationships to peers, faculty, and campus facilities.


Appalachia, Arts education policy, Student engagement