All Theses, Dissertations, and Capstone Projects

Year of Award



Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education & Allied Health


Family and Consumer Sciences

First Advisor

Susan M. Bartel

Second Advisor

Kimberly R. Allen

Third Advisor

Donna E. Dare


students, interns, preceptor, research, experience


Failure to fail occurs when educators pass students who are unsuitable for future professional practice. Literature suggests the phenomenon exists in various professional programs, yet this is the first known research focused on dietetics education. Nonexperimental quantitative methodology was used to investigate the manifestation of failure to fail in dietetic internship programs. An 18-item anonymous online survey was distributed to dietetics educators and preceptors who work with interns in a variety of settings. The survey received a 52.2 percent response rate. Over half of participants (n = 79; 60.77%) had worked with a concerning intern, 78 (62.40%) had given the “benefit of the doubt” on an evaluation, and 21 (16.94%) had given an undeserved competent rating. Significant differences in experiences and assessment practices were observed based on participants’ role, years of experience supervising interns, and work setting. Nearly one fourth of preceptor participants (n = 7; 24.14%) indicated a perceived lack of support from their institution when failing, or attempting to fail unsuitable students. Open-ended analysis revealed insight on strategies to alleviate issues, attributes of concerning interns, and concerns about program and institutional integrity. This study contributes to the breadth of research on failure to fail and highlights issues present in dietetics education. Future studies should include a larger reach of programs and an in-depth look at the experiences of preceptors and directors who have worked with professionally concerning interns.

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.