A Narrative Inquiry Approach to Improving Academic Performance in Undergraduate Science Courses at a Small, Private, Health Care Institution

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership


Department of Educational Administration


Meredith Wronowski


A successful completion of first-year science courses is critical for an on-time entry into the undergraduate health care programs of nursing, radiology, respiratory care, and sonography at a small, private health care institution. The inability of undergraduate students to pass science courses leads to drop-out or a delay of entry into their health care profession further presenting a health care staffing shortage during a time of an increased demand for health care providers. Knight College's main goal is to determine why undergraduate students underperformed academically in science courses. The primary purpose of this narrative inquiry design study that used a qualitative data source was to understand the lived experiences and perspectives of the students. This study used a purposeful sampling due to the selection process for students wanting to participate in re-telling their stories through semi-structured interviews of their experience(s) in undergraduate science course(s). The type of data analysis that occurred in this study was a narrative thematic analysis used to find common themes, comparison of the themes to one another, and among the different interviews. The eight, narrative, inquiry interviews provided key insights into the innermost workings of Knight College and the student's experiences. In synthesizing the findings, the three main themes that emerged were science course(s) experiences, academic advising experience, and student support services along with several subthemes. Furthermore, all eight students interviewed shared their stories about their struggles in science course(s) and discussed the barriers to their success included those while enrolled in the course(s) and those outside the college. The results of the narrative inquiry interviews were important because they led to the areas of focus for the action plan to develop a gateway (student success) course and to implement training of academic advisors.


Health Care, Higher Education, Narrative inquiry, improving academic performance in science courses, first-generation college student (FGCS) and transfer students, academic advising, student success

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