Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Vicki Underwood


Administrators of nursing programs in community colleges are aware of the need to retain and to graduate students to meet the growing demand for licensed practical nurses (LPNs). High attrition in a 2-year nursing program in South Carolina affected the number of students either graduating as a LPN after completing the third semester, or continuing in the program to become a registered nurse (RN). Guided by Jeffreys's nursing undergraduate retention and success model, this causal comparative study investigated the differences between students who were and were not successful in the initial 3 semesters of the program. Archival student records for all students entering fall 2012 through fall 2013 (n = 373) were analyzed using multiple ordinal logistic regression. The independent variables were demographics (age, gender, race/ethnicity), admissions qualifications (SAT/ACT scores, prior degree, or pre-nursing certificate), and academic performance (GPA in prerequisite courses, final course grades, and Kaplan standardized test scores). The dependent measure, student success, was defined by Jeffreys's pathways: attrition, failure, and retention (interim or continuous). Data analysis indicated GPA in prerequisite courses and grade in the first medical-surgical course were significant factors in predicting students successfully passing the initial 3 semesters. There were no other significant findings. Findings were incorporated into a recommendation for a policy change to increase the prerequisite GPA admissions requirement. Implications for social change include increased retention and graduation rates, thus preparing more students to enter the workforce as LPNs and contribute to reducing the nursing shortage.