Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education


Educational Services and Leadership


College of Education


Kerrigan, Monica Reid

Committee Member 1

Johnson, Ane Turner

Committee Member 2

Coaxum, James


community college students, engagement, guided pathways, Pre-Nursing Major, social capital


Community college students--Services for; Nursing students


Community College Leadership | Higher Education


Efforts to expand equity within post-secondary education, and to increase the number of people who acquire a college degree or certificate nationally, depend on community colleges. The rate of success for community college students, measured in persistence and completion rates, is relatively low.

In the U. S. in the fall of 2017, sixty three percent of the 5.9 million community college students attended part-time (NCES, 2019). Outside of class engagement is difficult for these students who spend limited time on campus. A program design that promotes a high level of engagement may contribute to student success. Thus, I set out to study how the design of a community college program promoted success through engagement. I proposed that the design of the Pre-Nursing (PRN) program at a suburban community college supported engagement. Engagement provided opportunities for the acquisition of social capital and social capital promoted success.

This qualitative holistic single-case study investigated the path to successful transfer for a cohort of students who were enrolled in the PRN major. Findings indicate that the small and interactive design of the laboratory classes, not the design of the program as a whole, promoted engagement. Engagement provided opportunities for the acquisition of social capital. Social capital promoted student success, as measured by attaining the minimum requirements for transfer from this college into a nursing program.