Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Adult and Lifelong Learning (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Kit Kacirek

Committee Member

Michael Miller

Second Committee Member

Bart Washer


Dental Hygiene, Grade point average, Higher education, Retention, Student Success, Transfer Shock


In order for a student to be successful in dental hygiene education, the student must gain the required knowledge and skills necessary to perform as a hygienist and possess the ability to utilize critical thinking to apply these attributes while in the program and on the National Board of Dental Hygiene Examination (NBDHE) (Alzahrani, Thompson, & Bauman, 2007; Fried, Maxey, Battani, Gurenlian, Byrd, & Brunick, 2017). Dental hygiene students who attend a medical university have the option to take required pre-requisite courses at a community college or a four-year university. All dental hygiene students transfer from another institution and all have the potential to exhibit transfer shock, which may contribute to a drop in GPA following the transfer to another institution. Transfer shock typically occurs for students who transfer from a community college to a university (Hills 1965; Ivins, Copenhaver, & Koclanes, 2016). This study investigates the impact of transfer shock on students who transfer into a dental hygiene program from a two-year community college as opposed to a four-year university. This study examined whether the type of institution, two-year community college versus a four-year university, attended prior to dental hygiene school is a predictor of success in a dental hygiene program in terms of ending program GPA and NBDHE first-attempt pass rates. After data analysis, results suggested that transfer shock did occur with both community college and four-year university students,. However, the four-year university group experienced less transfer shock than those who attended a community college during the first semester. Neither group increased their GPAs from the first to second semesters in the program. When comparing the entering GPAs with the end of program GPAs, both groups showed a significant drop. However, the community college group’s decrease in GPA was greater. Only five students in the total population (two from the four-year university group and three from the community college group) failed the NBDHE on the first attempt. Students who were unsuccessful in passing the NBDHE had final program GPAs that ranged from 2.2 to 2.45.