Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Education and Human Services


Curriculum & Instruction/Literacy Studies

Committee Chair

Neal Shambaugh

Committee Co-Chair

Terence C Ahern

Committee Member

Deborah A Boone

Committee Member

Ugur Kale

Committee Member

Karen E Rambo-Hernandez


The equine industry provides 640,000 jobs annually in the United States. Spending by suppliers and employees generates additional jobs for a total employment impact of 1.4 million full time equivalent (FTE) jobs. There are horses in every state, and over 4.6 million people are involved in the equine industry as owners, service providers, employers and volunteers. Overall, the horse industry directly contributes over {dollar}39 billion dollars annually to the US economy (American Horse Council, 2005). Students commonly recognize hands-on careers related to owning, training, and breeding horses, or veterinary medicine. However, fewer realize the diverse opportunities as service providers. Students have little experience searching for equine jobs, writing career specific cover letters, resumes and thank you letters, and practicing interview skills (P. Comerford, personal communication, Sept. 15, 2013). The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact an online Careers in the Equine Industry course has on student achievement of learning outcomes and student intention to pursue careers in the equine industry. Eleven upper-level equine studies undergraduate students from West Virginia University enrolled in the course and participated in the study during 2015. Data sources included discussion board posts, student assessments, survey feedback from horse industry professions, pre-semester and post-semester social cognitive career theory surveys, and student evaluation of instruction. Students reported the course design was logically sequenced, well-paced, maintained their interest, and provided connectedness with other students similar to a face-to-face course. Students were motivated to interact with peers and complete assignments on time. Student confidence related to earning an attractive salary upon graduation and their intention to pursue internships and undergraduate research related to careers in the equine industry increased as a result of the course.