Date of Award

Winter 2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Occupational and Technical Studies

Committee Director

Michael Kosloski

Committee Member

Philip A. Reed

Committee Member

Karen Sanzo


Career academies are small learning communities that allow high school students to learn their core content in the context of the career field they may be interested in pursuing. This type of learning environment incorporates business and industry and postsecondary institutions so academy students receive academic curricula that prepares them for higher education and allows students to have experiences in the career field. There is considerable research demonstrating strong benefits of the academy model to students and teachers, but there is little indicating why students enroll in the academy and what methods of recruitment may work best.

The purpose of this study was to assess factors influencing students’ decisions to enroll in career academy programs. The study investigated two research questions. The first research question looked at factors that influence students to apply for academy programs. The second research question explored reasons students have for choosing not to enroll in academy programs.

A survey conducted by the school division was used to collect the necessary data with n = 401 responses from students enrolled in an academy and n = 2,421 responses from students not enrolled in an academy. To investigate factors influencing students to apply for academy programs, a factor analysis was performed. This analysis resulted in two larger groupings linking items together based on program experience and student attitudes. A Pareto analysis indicated that counselors were the greatest influencing factors on student decisions to enroll in career academy programs. Parents, teachers, other students, the course catalog, website, and brochure also played a considerable role in how students learned about the academies. To investigate reasons students have for not applying, a Pareto analysis was conducted with the reasons of not knowing, not interested, and missed deadline as most influential.


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