Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Jill Channing

Committee Members

Jeff Howard, Stephanie Barham, Pamela Scott


This phenomenological, qualitative study addressed student perceptions of their meaning-making process towards self-authorship in a self-designed gap year experience and was conducted in a public higher educational institution in the Southeast. Data was gathered through interviews from a purposeful sample of gap year program participants and program administrators. Emerging themes and categories were identified by coding and analyzing the interview data, such as continual reflection reinforces the value of individual meaning-making, self-expectations versus self-worth, the influence of societal expectations are minimized, and self-designed learning helps to solidify changes in self-authorship. The data showed a strong connection between multiple meaning-making contexts for students and an enhancement in their authorship, as well as multiple-identities. The findings may be useful in gap year program reflection and redesign, and provide implications for self-design in experiential learning opportunities and gap year outcomes.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.