Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Eric Oestmann

Second Advisor

Melissa Batten


The reasons why a physical therapist assistant student does not advance in a technical program are multifactorial. The curriculum design of a program is one of many factors that can potentially mitigate against students’ progression in a program. The previous literature has only assessed the characteristics of physical therapist assistant students, faculty, and programs in relation to graduates’ success in passing the National Physical Therapist Examination. A retrospective program evaluation was performed to investigate how the length of courses (i.e., 7- week vs. 15-week) in the first technical semester of a physical therapist assistant program affected student progression in the program. The population for this study consisted of two cohorts of physical therapist assistant students at one community college. Both cohorts had 34 students. The results for this study suggest that students who participated in the 7-week course had a statistically better retention rate in the first technical term of a physical therapist assistant program, but there was no difference in course or term grade point average than students who participated in a 15-week course. The program studied can utilize the results of this research to validate the benefits and the negative impacts of a compressed course design for a program to improve program retention.


Dissertation presented in partial fulfillment of the degree of Doctor of Education at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences.