Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Major Professor

Oscar Aliaga Abanto, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Victor M. Hernandez-Gantes, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jennifer Wolgamuth, Ph.D.

Committee Member

William Blank, Ed.D.


Clinical Affiliate Institutions, Curriculum, Ultrasound Physics, Ultrasound


The juxtaposition of the increased current and future demand for Diagnostic Medical Sonographers and high attrition rates in many sonography programs emphasizes the need for colleges to do more to educate and train sonography practitioners who are prepared to enter the healthcare workforce. Additionally, a gap exists in understanding student engagement and persistence in Sonography programs. By filling this gap, pertinent answers about student success or lack thereof in these Sonography programs can be addressed.

This basic qualitative study aims to explore student engagement and persistence through the prism of their experiences in AS(DMS) programs at four-year state colleges in Florida. This study was framed by Tinto’s (1993) Model of Student Integration which states that for students to persist, they must be fully engaged in all systems of the institution.

Semi-structured interviews with eight participants enrolled in AS (DMS) programs at two, separate four-year state colleges yielded valuable insights into their various academic and social experiences in the program and how these experiences related to their engagement and persistence. Six themes emerged during the interviews. These included, 1) Faculty and student interactions during academic instruction and learning; 2) Student involvement in learning; 3) Challenging experiences and barriers to learning; 4) Social and learning engagement with peers in the classroom; 5) Clinical environment created by practitioners; 6) Clinical learning and image acquisition training and feedback.

Study findings indicated the following: Positive and supportive social interactions with faculty and fellow students are needed for student engagement and persistence. Student engagement and persistence are determined by the quality of the faculty’s instruction. Effective assessment design and feedback are required for students to reflect on their learning and engagement in the program. Students must take ownership of their learning process to be successful. The central role of clinical affiliates is to further student learning and engagement.