A Dissertation in Practice: Benefits of a Dental Hygienist Obtaining a Baccalaureate Degree: A Qualitative Research Study of Licensees in Five Midwestern States

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership (EdD)

Committee Chair

John Nadalin

Committee Member

Eric Hutchison

Committee Member

Donis Toler


This qualitative research study includes individual perspectives gathered from participants located in five midwestern states, comparing the benefits of obtaining a baccalaureate degree to the benefits found in current reviewed literature. Mezirow’s theory of transformational learning has been applied to the data to explain potential intangible benefits dental hygienists associate with seeking a baccalaureate degree. Dental hygienists who have obtained a baccalaureate degree were questioned via an online qualitative survey to obtain their personal beliefs as to the benefits of receiving a baccalaureate degree to discover the transformational meaning of obtaining a baccalaureate degree when an associate degree is the minimum requirement for licensure in the participant states. Findings from this inquiry support the premise that a baccalaureate degree adds opportunities for additional tangible and intangible benefits for dental hygienists. In addition, respondent replies support an increased self-understanding, strengthened belief systems, improved lifestyle changes, and enhanced responses to organizational change, relating Mezirow’s theory of transformational learning to intangible reasons behind the adult quest for seeking higher levels of learning.