Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Education



First Advisor

Amy E. Wells Dolan

Second Advisor

Laura Antonow

Third Advisor

Phillis George

Relational Format



This dissertation-in-practice case study aimed to assess internships opportunities at the University of Mississippi (UM) to determine potential barriers for access among African American students and students with low socioeconomic backgrounds. Internships are a high impact practice, as identified by the American Association for Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) that provide students with tangible, real-world experience to prepare for careers after graduation. Experiential learning theories (Kolb, 1984; Dewey, 1938) and high-impact practices (Kuh, 2008) establish the importance of student engagement outside of traditional classroom settings. The patterns and frequency of internship participation are not clear for University of Mississippi students. Research suggests that minority students do not participate in high-impact practices because of differences in social, financial, and cultural capital (Luo & Drake, 2014). The study sought to identify patterns in internship opportunities and participation while determining barriers to participation.

The first component of research was analyzing internship course enrollment data from the University of Mississippi Institutional Research, Effectiveness, and Planning (IREP) office. After analyzing this data, ten focus groups were formed with undergraduate students to discuss and assess internship resources at the University of Mississippi. Students who self-identified as having completed internships were invited to individual interviews. Focus group and interview data were analyzed to make recommendations to the UM community from the identified themes of: 1) internship knowledge, 2) university support, 3) financial challenges, and 4) personal networks.



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