Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ded)


Professional Studies in Education

First Advisor

George R. Bieger, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Susan Fello, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Anne D. Creany, Ed.D.


Academically vulnerable students are becoming a larger than expected component in college classrooms across the country (Perin, 2006; Spann, 2000). These students often show poor performance on class assignments and exams due to a lack of reading and writing skills at a level needed to succeed in a college classroom. Support centers and tutoring services are not equipped to handle the increased volume of academically vulnerable students nor the types of needs these students demand, causing the responsibility to shift more heavily to faculty. This research focused on examining the knowledge and perceptions of college faculty as they relate to working with college students who struggle with reading and writing. The ultimate objective for this investigation is to ascertain college faculty’s ability to recognize the characteristics of academically vulnerable students and to offer assistance that meets the needs of this unique population. To assess the knowledge and perceptions that college faculty have toward working with academically vulnerable students, faculty from six colleges and universities in northwestern Pennsylvania responded to an electronic survey. Data from the survey were analyzed using frequency and Chi Square statistical analysis. Qualitative data were analyzed using inductive analysis. Findings of the study indicate that gaps exist between faculty perceptions of their role in working with academically vulnerable students and the implementation of the assistance needed by this student population. Recommendations focus on increasing and improving the professional development opportunities for faculty offered by higher education institutions.