Date of Award

Spring 3-19-2021

Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. Transformational Teaching and Learning

First Advisor

Dr. Mark Wolfmeyer

Second Advisor

Dr. Catherine McGeehan

Third Advisor

Dr. Amy Lynch-Biniek


Utilizing the Foucauldian concepts of governmentality and technologies of the self, this qualitative action research study explored how power dynamics inherent in higher education can be recognized and resisted as first-year writing students journal on the transition to college (JTC). Conducted in a suburban community college in the Mid-Atlantic United States during the Spring 2020 semester, the study investigated how college is a feature of governmentality, how writing instructors’ actions interrupt or reinforce college as governmentality, and if journaling on the transition to college acts as a technology of the self, in light of the ways college governs. Journal prompts provided students opportunities to critically reflect on the institution of college and their experience entering this new space. Foucauldian concepts were not taught, but they informed the journal design. Black feminist theory supplemented the Foucauldian theoretical framework to address factors of students’ intersectional social identities emergent in JTC and relative to their experiences with power in college. Findings indicated students confront institutional power structures including economic power, grades, policies, and institutional White supremacy, all of which affect professors’ role as authority figures. Underrepresented students experience power much differently than those belonging to dominant groups and JTC provides instructors with insight to interrupt oppressive power through feedback. Writing instructors’ implementation of JTC allows them to disrupt governmentality and provides students a technology of the self through which they develop agency. Though disruptive, COVID-19 provided unexpected opportunities to apply Foucauldian concepts to teaching and learning during emergency remote instruction.



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