Date of Award

January 2018

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Tara Shepperson

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Second Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Third Advisor

Roger C. Cleveland

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


This study investigated whether first-generation female students experience the Impostor Phenomenon, and the extent these students suffer from the phenomenon. A convenience sample was used to draw from a targeted group of 205 first-generation college students. The method of data collection was a self-reporting survey, the Survey of First-Generation College Students, which consisted of a demographic survey and the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS). Descriptive statistics found 90% of students in this study experienced impostor feelings. Of those experiencing IP, 31.7% experienced moderate feelings, 45% experienced frequent feelings, and 13.3% of participants reported intense feelings. Fear and hesitation of potential performance and doing poorly when completing tasks were most prevalent amongst these IP sufferers. Independent sample t-test found no significant relationship between feelings of IP based on the student's cultural or ethnic minority status, parents with less than a high school education, or receipt a Federal Pell Grant. Bivariate (Pearson) correlations found no differences between IP feelings and time in college, nor between IP feelings and grade point average. Although no differences were found between the varying demographic characteristics, the negative effects of IP on students are well documented. Therefore, the need to understand IP is valuable when identifying those at risk of leaving, and strategic planning necessary to retain and graduate these students.