Who Am I to Become? A Longitudinal Qualitative Analysis of Identity Transition in Student Athletes
Little, Sari Jillian
University of Kansas
Health, Sport and Exercise Sciences
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The purpose of this dissertation was to explore and establish a better understanding of how student athletes identify themselves and create understanding of their transition out of their final year of baccalaureate study and intercollegiate athletic eligibility. The study is supported by three primary theoretical frameworks: identity theory; social identity theory; and transition theory. Further, research on student athlete identity, athlete identity threat and foreclosure, and student athlete career decision-making self-efficacy and career preparedness also bolsters this study. Because this study seeks to create understanding of the lived experiences of its participants, it is qualitative in nature. Specifically, the study subscribes to the phenomenological methodology due to the descriptive and exploratory nature of the study’s purpose. The study consists of twelve interviews from six participants. The first interview with each participant occurred weeks prior to graduating from college; the second interview took place roughly six months post-graduation. This longitudinal timeline was implemented to account for each participant transitioning from their student athlete experience into various professional endeavors. The interviews in this study were semi-structured to allow for conversational dialogue between the researcher and participant, thus aligning with the phenomenological framework. In lieu of traditional qualitative data analysis methods, the Listening Guide is the analytic tool implemented in this study. The Listening Guide is chosen specifically for it’s qualitative, relational and voice-centered data analysis approach. While traditional research designs call for the research findings to be presented in one chapter and discussed in the next, this study is unorthodox in its approach. A study of this nature is better presented as an infusion of finding and discussion per participant, as opposed to presenting the findings of all twelve interviews and then discussing them collectively. After an in-depth analysis of each participant’s findings, the study concludes with an acknowledgement of the research limitations as well as directions for future research.
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