Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Between January and December 2014, 68% of full-time hospitality management students at a southeastern university in the United States worked for pay more than 15 hours each week. Fifty percent of these students had a GPA of 2.5 or below, reflecting poor academic performance as benchmarked by the institution. The purpose of this study was to achieve an understanding of how full-time undergraduate hospitality students perceived the role of paid employment in their academic performance. The study was grounded by Astin's student involvement theory that requires an investment of psychosocial and physical energy by students for a successful college experience. Using a qualitative case study design, semi-structured interviews with 12 student participants were conducted. After pattern coding and thematic analysis, the data revealed that students perceived that they had to work for pay but did not manage their employment, college studies, and other demands on their time effectively. The findings indicated the need to integrate employment into the students' academic plan of study for academic credit. These results led to the development of a 3-day professional development project designed to help students manage full-time college and employment. The project also provided strategies for faculty members to integrate hospitality work participation into the students' academic experiences for credit. This study has implications for positive social change because an effective balance of college and employment combined with the integration of work and academic experiences may improve students' overall academic performance, leading to increased graduation rates and improved post-graduation employment opportunities for hospitality management students.