Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Richard Zinser

Second Advisor

Dr. Sue Poppink

Third Advisor

Dr. Kelly Cichy


Education, career technical education, educational administration, technology, nursing, college preparation


Many high school students interested in nursing as an occupation choose to engage in a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program and subsequently progress through the exploration stage of Super’s Career Development Theory in a succinct, deliberate, and intentional manner. While CTE continues to serve as an educational option for many high school students interested in nursing, its value as a means for students to crystallize, specify, and implement the choice to pursue the high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand career of nursing is not understood to the extent possible. CTE is regularly overlooked as a viable educational option by high school students who are often unaware of the specific experiences that influence a decision to pursue nursing.

Researchers of career development and choice theories have studied the career decision-making process of individuals throughout what Super (1990) refers to as the exploration phase, ages 15 through 24. The research, however, does not specifically address how educational experiences through a CTE program influence the career decision-making process of twelfth-grade students crystallizing, specifying, and implementing postsecondary plans. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to explore the lived experiences of twelfth-grade nursing preparation CTE students by describing and interpreting how their CTE experience influences their decisions to pursue a career in nursing. This in-depth qualitative study explores experiences of twelfth-grade students enrolled in the Nursing Preparation CTE program offered on site at the Lenawee Intermediate School District (LISD) TECH Center. Eight students were interviewed twice during the school year to better understand the decision-making process through specific educational experiences leading to a determination to pursue a career in nursing.

Findings determined through this study offer implications for researchers and practitioners furthering knowledge, understanding, and advantages of CTE. Super’s Theory of Career Development is applicable to most individuals, including the students who participated with this study, who throughout their lifetime will likely progress through all five of Super’s (1990) stages. However, by participating in the Nursing Preparation CTE program, students had the opportunity to explore specific aspects of nursing. CTE programs, with their intensive career exploration activities, is the perfect way to accomplish Super’s exploration stage, specifically the process of crystallizing, specifying, and implementing a postsecondary plan. Nursing Preparation students provided the data as I, the researcher, answered the research questions illustrating how influential experiences such as dual enrollment and CNA training aligned with the exploration stage of Super’s theory throughout their twelfth-grade experience. Super’s Theory of Career Development, specifically the exploration stage, includes a timeframe whereby students, through career-related exploration activities, had the opportunity to learn more about their abilities and skill sets, develop self-concepts, and engage in influential experiences. Not only were they influenced, the experience confirmed their decision and strengthened their resolve to pursue the career by the end of their senior year in high school.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access