Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Deborah L. West

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Second Advisor

Charles S. Hausman

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Third Advisor

James R. Bliss

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies


This dissertation is a qualitative study about high school student participation in dual credit programming in the rural Appalachian setting of Southeastern Kentucky. The research region is comprised of resource extraction based communities and the coal markets have plummeted. Void the once robust coal industry, Southeast Kentucky will have to reconstruct a new economy. Today’s students in this region can no longer be prepared to enter an established workforce, they must be able to acclimate to and/or forge new jobs. Sustainability requires a refocusing on education. This dissertation provides a qualitative research contribution to the statistical literature available on Kentucky’s rural Appalachian dual credit programming. This study examined levels of student engagement in the regional service area of Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical Colleges’ current Dual Credit programming, the benefits associated with enrolling in dual credit courses, and exploration of barriers that prevent student dual credit enrollment or impair their performance. This study identifies five key components of dual credit that have an impact on student participation and performance. Also, triangulation methods were incorporated to evaluate research validly and establish areas of interest for further study. Finally, this dissertation describes how a local college and high school collaboration is becoming a powerful influence in encouraging youth to challenge themselves and achieve.