Term of Award

Fall 2011

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Education Administration (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Department

Department of Leadership, Technology, and Human Development

Committee Chair

Teri Denlea Melton

Committee Member 1

Meca Williams-Johnson

Committee Member 2

James Green

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this mixed method study was to determine if a relationship existed between self-efficacy scores and a final program course grade for first-generation graduate professional college students (FGS) and non-first-generation graduate professional college students (NFGS) in a physician assistant program. In addition, the researcher sought to explore the perceptions of first-generation graduate professional program students regarding experiences, contributors, and successful strategies relative to self-efficacy as related to completion of their degree program. Method: This mixed method study examined the experiences of 59 physician assistant students from Georgia Health Sciences University (formerly known as the Medical College of Georgia) by using the Generalized Self-Efficacy Scale (GSE), originally developed by Schwarzer and Jerusalem in 1981, and a demographic questionnaire which was designed by the researcher. Results from the two instruments were evaluated using bivariate correlations and descriptive statistics. The researcher also utilized chi-square and t-test for quantitative analyses. Second, the researcher developed a list of interview questions which expanded upon the study's research questions in order to explore the perceptions of first-generation graduate professional students regarding experiences, contributors, and successful strategies relative to self-efficacy as related to completing their degree program. Major Findings: Based on the quantitative findings of this study, it was not determined if self-efficacy has a significant influence on a final Anatomy course grade based on generation status. In addition, the researcher concluded that the group comparison between FGS and NFGS did not show a significant difference when comparing group Anatomy scores or self-efficacy scores. The qualitative phase revealed three common themes regarding self-efficacy in a physician assistant program: (a) mastery experiences, (b) family support, and (c) self-confidence.

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