Paper Type

Doctoral Dissertation


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership (EdD)


Leadership, School Counseling & Sport Management

NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Leadership, School Counseling & Sports Management

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel Dinsmore

Second Advisor

Dr. Chris Janson

Rights Statement

Third Advisor

Dr. Amanda Pascale

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Curt Lox

Fifth Advisor

Dr. Gregory Hartley

Department Chair

Dr. Liz Gregg

College Dean

Dr. Diane Yendol-Hoppey


Healthcare professions educational programs have a responsibility to develop professionally engaged lifelong learners. Knowledge of the factors important to the development of these desirable characteristics may inform educational leaders’ decisions about program and curriculum design. This study aimed to investigate the relation between level of education and an orientation towards lifelong learning and future professional engagement. In addition, the influence of learners’ type of motivation for continued learning, and learning goal orientation on this relation was also assessed.

A cross-sectional survey of learners from a single healthcare profession, physical therapy was conducted to investigate these relations. Physical therapist learners from across the United States at all levels of formal professional and post-professional education were included invited to participate in the anonymous online survey. Path analysis was used to analyze the relations between the included factors.

A total of 251 usable responses were included in the analysis. Results suggest that physical therapist learners increase their orientation toward lifelong learning and future professional engagement as they advance through the physical therapy education continuum. Furthermore, having greater autonomous and less controlled motivation increases this relation. Mastery goal orientation also had a positive direct effect on lifelong learning and professional engagement but this effect was independent of learners’ current level of education. Implications for educational leaders in the physical therapy profession are discussed along with recommendations for future research.