Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Adult, Career, and Higher Education

Major Professor

Michael Mills, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Jan Ignash, Ph.D.


Education, Nutrition, Residency, Training, Professional development


One way in which higher education is responding to technology advances, demographics changes, and economic pressures is through the development of distance learning. Distance learning represents one of the most prominent trends in higher education today. Understanding the impact of this technologically driven change on student outcomes is unmistakably important. One example of this trend in higher education is the distance learning internship in dietetic training programs. The purpose of this study was to compare student outcomes in distance learning dietetic internships to student outcomes in traditional dietetic internships. The pass rate of the registration exam for dietitians, levels of perceived preparation for practice, and evaluation of curricular experiences were compared. The study was divided into three phases. The first phase of the study was the recruitment of dietetic internship directors and program information, including registration exam pass rate. The second phase of the study consisted of surveys on preparedness for practice to the graduates and supervisors. The third phase of the study involved interviews of traditional and distance program graduates, their supervisors, and internship directors on curricular experience and preparation. No significant difference was found in pass rates for the registration exam. Significant differences were found in constructs of dietetic practice based on surveys with graduates and their supervisors. Common themes from interviews with graduates, their supervisors, and program directors confirmed survey results showing graduates of traditional dietetic internship were prepared at a higher level of practice, competence and clinical judgment. The results of this research do not support equivalency in preparation for practice between distance and traditional dietetic internships.