Abstract The issue of doctoral student attrition has been recognized in the literature since the middle of the 20th Century. Although not always described as a problem, and with a change in attribution of the reasons from primarily that of the student to more of an institutional responsibility, the attrition of doctoral students remains at only slightly less than half. Especially concerning is why students, who have successfully passed all their courses and the preliminary examinations that promote them to a doctoral candidate in the final phase of the doctoral program, fail to complete. This qualitative study explored perspectives from 18 tenured members of the graduate faculty from four U. S. doctorate-granting institutions with very high research activity located in the general Midwestern regions that had graduated more than 50 doctorate recipients in one or major fields of the social sciences, focused on their assessment that a particular student will complete his/her degree after passing the preliminary exam and becoming a candidate for the Ph. D. (what is commonly also referred to as “All But Dissertation” (ABD). Two models, Girves and Wemmerus’ (1988) degree progression model, and Tinto’s (1993) three-stage model on doctoral student retention, provided the foundation for the conceptual framework for the study. The results of the study show that a diversity of themes was found that characterized each of the four advisee types and differentially shaped the advising relationship. One of the main salient findings of this study concerned those advisees seen as being “at risk” of non-completion. The descriptions of their “extra efforts,” in some cases, extraordinary time and effort, contribute to the body of literature reviewed that falls into the category of multi-level (institutional, departmental, and individual) approaches that can be taken to propel doctoral students over the finishing line. The implications for practice from the findings of this study may be helpful to faculty advisors, doctoral students, and department administrators.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. August 2016. Major: Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development. Advisor: Darwin Hendel. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 220 pages.
How Faculty Assessments of Degree Completion Likelihood Shape their Advising Relationship with Doctoral Students.
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