Please join The Writers’ Exchange in congratulating Brittany Motley in the successful completion of her dissertation:


Higher Education’s Immunity to Change: Understanding How Leaders Make Meaning of Their Student Success Landscape

Closing equity gaps in the higher education sector is a long-standing issue. This issue has become exacerbated with the impact of COVID-19 and racial injustices happening across America. Now more than ever it has become imperative to use participatory action research to understand how leaders make meaning of their student success landscape and use that meaning to influence their strategic action for equity. I engaged two student success stakeholders from one university as co-researchers to help identify a problem in practice as it relates to equity gaps in student success. We used a modified approach to immunity to change (ITC) coaching coupled with an action inquiry framework to assist student success stakeholders with processing and reflecting on this problem to enact change. Co-researchers identified groups of stakeholders, referred to as “ITC participants,” based on their problem in practice to complete modified ITC mapping. I then used the findings from the modified ITC mapping to ask co-researchers to develop a plan of action to sustain momentum around resolving the Problem in Practice. This qualitative research project revealed three key findings: (a) understanding problems that relate to equity requires disaggregating data; (b) staff who are on the ground are key in understanding student success and creating a student-centered culture; and (c) leaders’ beliefs are translated into actions and demonstrated in structures and policies created.

WEX is always interested in learning from successful writers about their process. Here, Dr. Brittany Motley shares a few pointers:


What advice would you give to others writing a dissertation?

It was a pleasure working with WEX as I finished my dissertation. The service was excellent, efficient, and helped me reach my completion goal. I would like to offer to anyone writing a dissertation to ask for help and seek support. It is important that you know all of the available options needed to finish. Plan your work and work your plan!

What are your next steps in your academic/professional career?

I plan to continue conducting research to examine what Black students believe is important in helping them to learn. I also plan to seek full-time employment as a professor within a college of education and continue to conduct professional development trainings for inservice teachers throughout k-12 school districts.


Brittany Motley, PhD, Graduate School in Leadership & Change, Antioch University