Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Jean Sorrell


This project study addressed the problem of a decline in retention of students at a local allied health college. The need for allied health professionals is projected to exceed the availability by 2020, so it is important to identify strategies to help allied health students succeed. The purpose of this case study was to explore perceptions of students and faculty about motivating factors and learning strategies that foster successful progression in allied health programs. Ryan and Deci's self-determination theory, focused on the relationship between motivation and success, served as the framework for the study. Research questions addressed intrinsic and extrinsic factors that students and faculty identified as significant in motivating successful completion of core courses. Data collection included information from the college effective plan from the research site and face-to-face audio-recorded interviews with 10 allied health students and 5 faculty. Students were 18 years or older and enrolled in at least 1 core course in an allied health program; faculty taught at least 1 core course with at least 1 year of experience with allied health students. Interview data were analyzed through open coding to identify themes related to motivating student success in core courses. Significant motivating factors included improved quality of life (intrinsic) and a supportive learning environment (extrinsic). Motivating strategies for student success were active involvement in the learning process and hands-on learning. Findings from the study guided development of a 3-day learning community designed to support student success in core allied health courses. Positive social change may be impacted by motivating allied health students to succeed in order to meet the health care needs of clients.