Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

William Howe, PhD, Chair; Paula A. Cordeiro, EdD; Fred McFarlane, PhD


collaboration, diversity, educational reform, higher education, Leadership studies, professional education programs, Reflective practice, technology


Today's postsecondary students are entering American institutions of higher education (IHEs) with different experiences, expectations, and learning needs than students of previous generations. Calls for more diverse campuses, advanced technology, and lifelong learning are maintaining pressure on IHEs to adjust to new demands for a more encompassing vision as traditional approaches are no longer adequate. The challenges are tremendous; the responses must be extensive and reflective if higher education is to achieve its goals of preparing students for productive and meaningful lives. This study investigated student experiences in a yearlong professional education program that was focused by four strategic choices identified by a college of education in a large southwestern university: diversity, collaboration, reflective practice, and technology. Specifically, the content of student journals and transcripts of group discussions were analyzed for indications of changes in awareness and examples of application during their internship experiences. Qualitative research methods were used to address the following questions: 1) How, if at all, did the students, awareness of the four strategic choices change over time? and 2) How, if at all, did the students apply the four strategic choices during their internships? Data were analyzed using a modified version of the constant comparative approach of developing theory. Three subprocesses, e.g., data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing/verification, were employed to identify patterns of attitude change over time, and indications of progress through stages of awareness, understanding, and application. As patterns emerged, new relationships and explanations were discovered. Findings indicated that changes in awareness occurred and that students applied what they learned in their internships. This study demonstrated that infusing strategic choices into the coursework of a professional education program helped encourage students to challenge their own beliefs and clarify their own values. In addition, the use of a cohort structure and seminar class facilitated the creation and maintenance of a learning community. Finally, coordinating the goals and activities of the coursework and internship experiences helped to reinforce effective models for teaching and learning. Based on these findings, implications were offered for professional education programs and for administrators and faculty engaged in IHE reform.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access