Date of Award

Spring 5-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Rachel Gisewhite

Committee Chair School

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Member 2

Dr. Julie Cwikla

Committee Member 2 School

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Member 3

Dr. Ken Buford

Committee Member 3 School

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Member 4

Dr. Johnathan McEwen


Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) courses are offered at almost every postsecondary educational institution in the United States enrolling over 450,000 students each year across the United States with an overall attrition rate between 30-40%. Approximately 150,000 of these students will not be successful the first time they attempt A&P. This constitutes one of the highest attrition rates of all undergraduate degree courses with this size of yearly enrollment.

A&P courses often serve as gateway course required for the continuation and completion of several biological degree fields. Many health-related professional programs such as nursing, paramedicine, and other allied health vocations require students to complete human A&P before being allowed to either apply or graduate from their curriculum of study. Therefore, the success or failure of A&P coursework within our postsecondary educational system is essential to institutional achievements and the national public health communities.

Community colleges in the United States enroll over 6 million students per year and train approximately 60% of healthcare workers nationwide. Increased emphasis is being placed on these two-year institutions to improve student outcomes and increased graduation and workforce credentialling rates. Significant research has been conducted to discover the best methods to achieve the desired student results, but one set of courses that has been deficient in studies is A&P.

This research expands the body of knowledge by combing an argument-based validity theory and phenomenological interpretive lens into an analysis of academic variables that could improve the advisement process for A&P students at the community college level. The sample for this study was taken from one community college within MS which demonstrates a comparable demographic distribution in age, race, and gender as national community college census. Jones College in Ellisville, MS provided such a data set and therefore was used for the research.

A sequence of statistical analysis was conducted on the proposed independent variables to determine any significant relationships between the predictor variables and A&P course outcomes. These variables were placed into a regression formula to identify the most sensitive and specific prediction model which could be used by academic counsellors in the advisement of students seeking enrollment in A&P I courses.