This dissertation presents a new approach for studying students enrolled in developmental English classes at community colleges. Multiple quantitative studies have documented the low success rates of these students; however, few studies have examined their experiences. Using a liberatory discourse theoretical framework, this action research study investigated the experiences of developmental English students through a series of in-depth focus groups. The data were then analyzed in collaboration with students using a coding process to identify themes that emerged across the data. Student voices informed the data at every step of the inquiry process, from data collection to data analysis and presentation. This study found that students defined success by their understanding of the course curriculum more frequently than by grades. Also, students were more likely to succeed when the curriculum was challenging, and when they felt a personal connection with instructors. The most significant finding of this study was that successful communication between the instructor and students was the greatest facilitator of success, and unsuccessful communication was the greatest barrier to success. The most significant implications of this data are that the curriculum in basic skills English classes should be challenging, that faculty should engage students in the learning process, and that colleges should offer faculty meaningful professional development opportunities in which they can improve their communication skills. This study is significant to the field of education because it painted a complete picture of student success, complementing the wealth of quantitative research that currently exists. This study recognized the voices of students and documented their perspectives so that researchers and practitioners could design programs and implement policies that addressed the needs of students.