Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Higher Education Administration: Ed.D.


Educational Administration and Higher Education


School of Education

First Advisor

Michael Mills

Second Advisor

Stephen McCullar

Third Advisor

Kristi Haertl

Fourth Advisor

Erin Heath

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

Honors Admission, Honors Retention, Honors Completion, Honors Courses, Healthcare Student Decision-Making, Interprofessional Education


This qualitative study explored high aptitude healthcare students’ decision-making surrounding collegiate honors program participation. The topic of decision-making was relevant; according the National Collegiate Honors Council (2014-2015) the mean four-year honors program completion rate is less than 50% . The primary research question explored how students’ values, knowledge, and experiences influenced decisions to participate in a collegiate honors program. Twenty-five students’ were interviewed representing ten different healthcare professions. The transcribed narratives were analyzed using a constructivist grounded theory method. The result was a model, grounded in the data, which identified the factors associated with decisions to join, decline or drop the program.

Four major themes comprise the Model of Healthcare Student Collegiate Honors Decision-Making: Pre-college experiences, valuing honors, selective admission, and confounding factors. High school pre-college experiences in honors courses or the National Honors Society were linked directly to pre-selection for program admission. Valuing honors curricula and pre-selection for admission were associated with joining the program. Knowledge of confounding factors which led students’ to decline or drop the program were: Major demands, the stress of the program, lack of ethnic diversity, cost, and concerns about the program lowering their cumulative grade point average. The generated theory identified modifiable factors that can be addressed to improve program admission, retention and completion rates. The study also captured healthcare students’ innovative ideas on how to overcome barriers to program completion through the integrating interprofessional education (IPE) into liberal arts based honors coursework



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