Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


Kenneth Tobin

Committee Members

Konstantinos Alexakos

Gillian Bayne

Mitch Bleier

Subject Categories

Education | Higher Education | Humane Education | Inequality and Stratification | Place and Environment | Scholarship of Teaching and Learning | Theory and Philosophy | Theory, Knowledge and Science


community college, life purposes, heuristics, authentic inquiry, dignity therapy


College students who understand how the courses that they are enrolled in connect with their broader life goals are more likely to apply an approach of task perseverance with academic endeavors. Yet, nearly three million adolescent community college students in the United States may not have developed clear purposes in life. Relatedly, overtime the lack of lucid life purposes contributes to maladaptive behavior.

This dissertation is a compilation of three interrelated studies that took place in two public community colleges in the City University of New York. Guided by authentic inquiry and framed by sociocultural theory, central to each study in this manuscript is the question: what can be learned about educational purposes from urban public community college students? One outcome of my research is a Life Purposes Heuristic (LPsH) that is informed by Dignity Therapy and is included for review and utilization.