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How former Division I student-athletes experience their dual undergraduate roles: The internal compeition for identity Open Access

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ABSTRACT OF DISSERTATIONHow Former Division I Student-Athletes Experienced Their Dual Undergraduate Roles:The Internal Competition for an IdentityIdentity research requires a multidisciplinary approach for a comprehensive understanding. Even with acceptance of multiple perspectives, one is left with ambiguous terminology and indiscrete concepts (Ashmore, Deaux, & McLaughlin-Volpe, 2004).The inquiry into the identity of a nontraditional college population such as student-athletes is no less complicated and challenging (Gohn & Albin, 2006). The role development and role demands confronting these students make for a unique undergraduate experience (Greer & Robinson, 2006). The identity balance achieved through role salience necessitates that these students learn self-regulation and self-management skills in order to perform both academic and athletic roles effectively (Adler & Adler, 1987; Killeya-Jones, 2005; Melendez, 2009). Nonetheless, proficiency at these roles does not preclude the inevitable role foreclosures that all these student-athletes face at the end of their undergraduate experience (Ogilvie & Taylor, 1993; Pearson & Petitpas, 1990). This dissertation is a three-part examination of this dual identity phenomenon. It explores the experiences of seven former NCAA Division I student-athletes who participated in the revenue-producing sports of basketball or football. All three of the analyses utilize a phenomenological methodology and rely on both an interview and projective stimulus. The interviews consist of three sets of open-ended questions, and the projective data instrument utilizes Card 1 (Boy with violin) of the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) (Murray, 1943). The initial inquiry looks at the developmental process of the student-athlete, including how the two identities are formed, sustained, and foreclosed. Many college student-athlete studies examine identity issues while the students are enrolled as undergraduates, but this inquiry focuses on those former NCAA Division I athletes who successfully navigated the dual role dynamic. The reports of those who have been able to play and graduate give insight to particular problems and the solutions these athletes developed. The results reveal a pre-collegiate dual identity development that is sustained through college by role salience strategies and role foreclosure recognition.The second inquiry identifies those individual identity elements that may be active in the formation of the dual role identities for these former student-athletes. The dominant identity themes for the interviews were framed by Ashmore, Deaux, and McLaughlin-Volpe (2004). The narratives were scrutinized for identity themes from the participants' high school and college experiences. The narratives consisted of the following identity elements: self-categorization, evaluation, importance, affective commitment, and content and meaning. The assessment of the TAT projections was grounded in McClelland, Atkinson, Clark, and Lowell's (1953) achievement motivation scoring criteria. High-achievement content was found in five of the seven stories. Implications of the findings are discussed for future research into the complexity of college student-athlete identity.The final inquiry examines the motivational and self-regulatory underpinning of these former student-athletes. Delay of gratification (DOG) has been recognized as a psychological trait involving both ego control and ego resiliency (Funder & Block, 1989). It is also recognized as an important psychological condition for academic success (Bembenutty & Karabenick, 1998). The same two data collection instruments were used: an open-ended question interview and Card 1 (Boy with violin) of the TAT. The interview yielded recall data concerning DOG in both the high school and college experiences of these participants. The TAT gave a projective story and fictional response to the structured stimulus in the TAT picture card. There were similar responses between the data sets alluding to DOG when the narratives were assessed according to Academic Delay of Gratification strategies (Bembenutty & Karabenick, 1998). Implications for further research, policy, and practice as well as a need for more expansive qualitative inquiry into this student-athlete subpopulation are discussed.

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