Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Teaching & Learning

First Advisor

Carolyn Ozaki


The purpose of this study was to increase the understanding of the factors that contribute to or detract from the educational preparation of graduates between associate (AD) and baccalaureate degree (BD) respiratory therapy programs through the use of graduate and employer survey ratings, Registered Respiratory Therapist (RRT) credentialing success, and document analysis of various institutional and program mission, course content, and goals.

This study employed quantitative analyses to compare the perceptions of AD graduates and their employers with the perceptions of BD graduates and their employers regarding the educational program’s ability to prepare graduates for entry into the profession. Graduate and employer ratings of cognitive, psychomotor, and affective competencies obtained from the follow-up surveys from 16 BD and 88 AD respiratory therapy programs were analyzed to determine whether there were perceived differences in preparation of associate and baccalaureate degree graduates. Credentialing success data for graduates of 361 AD and 57 BD respiratory therapy programs were also analyzed to determine whether differences in program type had an effect on RRT credentialing success. Multivariate analyses of variance, Welch’s F tests and Mann-Whitney two-sample test were used to analyze the data. Additional information obtained from 22 AD and 22 BD institutions were also analyzed to explore similarities and differences in mission, vision, learning outcomes and coursework.

The three most significant findings in this study were that (1) Employers rated BD graduates higher than AD graduates in the cognitive (mean ratings 4.442 and 4.256 respectively) psychomotor (mean ratings 4.508 and 4.308 respectively) and affective domain (mean ratings 4.642 and 4.496 respectively); (2) BD employer survey ratings were also higher than AD employer ratings (mean ratings 4.49 and 4.21 respectively) on the mean rating for the single item that asked graduates to rate the overall quality of their preparation for entry into the profession and (3) Findings from the document analysis revealed that BD programs required courses beyond the minimum general education, prerequisite and RT course requirements. Thus, the results of this study support the “2015 and Beyond” recommendation that the BD be the minimum entry-level education required for entry into the profession.