Date of Submission


Document Type



Doctor of Education




attrition, functionalist paradigm, underserved students, professional education, student supports, distributed leadership


Student attrition is a concern for all organizations that provide education, as high levels of attrition can have a significant impact on an organization’s finances and reputation. Online learning provides access to individuals of varying educational and experiential backgrounds who may not have otherwise embarked in an education or training program (referred to here as “Underserved Students”). While education supports personal and professional growth, if students feel that an Education Program is not meeting their needs in terms of curricular relevance or student support, attrition will likely result. This Organizational Improvement Plan (OIP) addresses a problem of practice concerning high attrition rates among Underserved Students in Organization X’s (a pseudonym for an organization offering professional education in the business/finance field) Education Program. Organization X is an established organization rooted in by-laws, policies, and procedures, and the OIP’s overarching leadership lens is informed by the functionalist paradigm. The political and structural frames provide perspective on Organization X’s internal and external environments. Recognizing that attrition among Underserved Students is a multifaceted problem, and acknowledging Organization X’s functionalist attributes, the OIP proposes that a formal committee that relies on stakeholder input be formed to investigate and address the needs of the Underserved Student population. Lewin’s Three-Step Change model and Schein’s extension of it are used to lead the change plan described in this OIP, which will require transformational and distributed leadership. Nadler and Tushman’s Organizational Congruence model is also discussed, as it provides an assessment of the disparity that exists between Organization X’s current and desired organizational state.