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Career academies: A holistic multiple-case study of the development and sustainability of high school-college partnerships in Nebraska

Kelly Scott Christensen, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this qualitative study was to conduct a holistic, multiple-case analysis of career academy partnerships in Nebraska public high schools. Career academies are poised to be an important solution to improving student access to career and technical education in Nebraska while ultimately helping to close the skills gap. This is at a time when all of education faces increased accountability from all stakeholders; therefore, this study investigated the benefits of collaboration between secondary and postsecondary institutions and the unique processes associated with career academies. A review of related literature provided significant findings related to career academies nationally; however, these studies failed to identify the qualities, roles, and procedures of key partners similar to those participants purposefully selected for this study. Therefore, this study concentrated on the phenomenon of creating partnerships leading to dual enrollment Small Learning Communities (SLCs) identified as career academies within rural, micropolitan, and metropolitan regions in Nebraska. The Nebraska Statewide Career Academy Quality Indicators for Local Implementation of Career Academies served as the guide for this inquiry under the conceptual framework selected for the research. These indicators were approved by the chief instructional officers of the Nebraska community colleges and the Nebraska State School Board in 2010 and assisted the researcher in evaluating the processes in developing and maintaining high school- college career academy partnerships with dual enrollment. Using empirical data collected at three sites through semi-structured open-ended interviews, field notes, and public documents, this researcher gathered rich descriptive data leading to an in-depth understanding of the central research question "What processes enabled the development of dual enrollment, career academy partnerships between selected high schools and community colleges in Nebraska?" This researcher selected sites with the goal of discovering and understanding the decisions and actions with in each case to provide a unique perspective to help close the knowledge gap and extend current research. Participant data included ten secondary, postsecondary and emerging informants who are key to forming the collaborative processes related to career academies.

Subject Area

Community college education|Educational leadership|School administration|Secondary education

Recommended Citation

Christensen, Kelly Scott, "Career academies: A holistic multiple-case study of the development and sustainability of high school-college partnerships in Nebraska" (2014). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3618655.