Date of Award

Winter 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Occupational and Technical Studies

Committee Director

John M. Ritz

Committee Member

Theresa B. Clarke

Committee Member

George D. Haber

Committee Member

Philip A. Reed

Committee Member

Ginger S. Watson-Papelis


Stakeholders in career and technical education, and more specifically marketing education, tout member benefits of applied learning through career and technical student organizations. However, there is little empirical evidence to support the notion that such student organizations help students to achieve academic gains. As a result, the purpose of this study was to collect and analyze empirical data to determine whether there is a relationship between DECA, An Association of Marketing Students, and academic gains as indicated by grade point average.

The study examined three relationships. The first was the relationship between DECA membership and grade point average movement, the second examined the impact of multiple years of membership, and the third analyzed the relationship between grade point average as it related to an individual's level of engagement in DECA's annual activities.

Two-hundred twelve students across Virginia (n=212) completed an inventory identifying their involvement in DECA, and they also provided entry, midpoint, and exit grade point averages. It was determined that DECA members showed significant increases in grade point averages during their memberships. It was also determined that multiple years of membership amplified the grade point averages. Finally, it was determined students who were more heavily engaged in DECA's annual activities showed greater academic gains than did their more passive member counterparts.