Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership


Educational Leadership and Curriculum

First Reader/Committee Chair

Dr. Edna Martinez


Many low-income, first-generation college students have no other choice but to work to help offset the costs associated with earning a college degree (Savoca, 2016). Meanwhile, colleges and universities have the opportunity to leverage on-campus employment as a high-impact practice (McClellan, Creager, & Savoca, 2018). High-impact practices (HIPs) are known to increase retention, persistence, and completion (Kuh, 2008). If structured with intentionality and purpose, on-campus jobs can offer low-income, first-generation college students the opportunity to participate in a HIP, while simultaneously earning an income (McClellan et al., 2018).

The purpose of this intrinsic case study was to explore on-campus employment as a High Impact Practice (HIP) at Intentional Validation University (IVU). IVU is four-year university that serves a disproportionate number of students who are low-income and first-generation. In addition, IVU had an explicit organizational commitment to incorporating HIPs to achieve higher levels of student performance, learning, and development. Data sources included 26 in-depth semi-structured interviews, observations, and document analysis.

In addition to cultural and structural issues related to communication, the findings revealed that there were two contrasting student employment sub-cultures. There was the validating sub-culture that serves as an example from which the larger campus can learn. The opposing sub-culture was one that was invalidating to student employees. The student employee experiences with on-campus employment varied based on their working environment, which was most often influenced by their supervisor. The intentional supervisor created a validating office-environment that elevated the student employment experience to a HIP. Additional benefits of a validating subculture included further engagement with institution and access to and activation of social capital. Based on these findings, recommendations for policy, practice, and future research are advanced.