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Doctoral Candidate Milestone Achievement: A Philosophy for Situated Dissertation Advising

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In a primarily doctoral granting institution, it is critical to have provisions to ensure high rates of student success to ensure institutional viability. In this paper, the authors present the challenges experienced by doctoral candidates and propose a philosophy of dissertation advising to help students complete their programs successfully and within a reasonable amount of time. This research includes a summarization of strategies used by certain faculty to reduce student complaints, decrease time to completion rates, and increase retention. The authors recommend a formal approach to situated dissertation research advising to improve doctoral student persistence and completion especially for the dissertation research phase of a doctoral program. The suggested model leads to chair efficacy, higher quality mentoring skills, and more collaborative communication between the chair and candidate. Keywords: Dissertation advising, Complaints, Dissertation chair, Student success, Doctoral student persistence, Doctoral program completion
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Doctoral Candidate Milestone Achievement: A Philosophy for Situated Dissertation Advising
By
Robin Throne, Ph.D., Northcentral University
Melanie Shaw, Ph.D., Northcentral University
C. Jerome Fore, Ph.D., Northcentral University
Jennifer Duffy, Ph.D., Northcentral University
Meena Clowes, Ph.D., Northcentral University
Paper presented at the Eighth International Conference on e-Learning and Innovative Pedagogies
University of California, Santa Cruz
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Abstract
In a primarily doctoral granting institution, it is critical to have provisions to ensure high rates of student
success to ensure institutional viability. In this paper, the authors present the challenges experienced by
doctoral candidates and propose a philosophy of dissertation advising to help students complete their
programs successfully and within a reasonable amount of time. This research includes a summarization
of strategies used by certain faculty to reduce student complaints, decrease time to completion rates,
and increase retention. The authors recommend a formal approach to situated dissertation research
advising to improve doctoral student persistence and completion especially for the dissertation research
phase of a doctoral program. The suggested model leads to chair efficacy, higher quality mentoring
skills, and more collaborative communication between the chair and candidate.
Keywords: Dissertation advising, Complaints, Dissertation chair, Student success, Doctoral student
persistence, Doctoral program completion
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Doctoral Candidate Milestone Achievement: A Philosophy for Situated Dissertation Advising
U.S. for-profit institutions of higher education that offer doctoral programs have become a fast-
growing segment within the Carnegie doctoral classifications (and other levels) for good reason
(Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching [CFAT], 2011; Planty et al., 2008; U.S.
Department of Education [USDOE], 2011). The doctoral programs offered by these for-profit institutions
are often online or have low-residency requirements that allow industry professionals or executive
leaders to even consider the pursuit of a doctorate as an option (Offerman, 2011). Many professionals
entering these hybrid or online doctoral programs find along the dissertation journey that their world of
practice offers rich data within the professional setting that may help to solve the problems of the
profession or discipline within the locality of the problem, which often significantly aligns with their
initial desire and intention of seeking the degree (Adams & DeFleur, 2005; Coghlan, 2007; Flowers, 2007;
Flowers & Baltzer, 2006a, 2006b). These doctoral candidates often come to a doctoral program to solve
problems from where they stood in respect to their own vocation: not for someone else, not for another
setting, not for the credential (even though they often envision those letters following their name
throughout program), but from within the problems they face from where they live and work every day
(Evans, 2010; Pilkington, 2009). It is often through the accommodations of these programs and
accomplishment of the dissertation study that final degree attainment is achieved, which can change
individuals, organizations and communities of practice, and may benefit society overall. These doctoral
graduates rarely leave the institution without a changed perspective and ontology, a significant shift in
viewpoint that aids reflection as to why they may have even pursued the terminal degree in the field in
the first place (Evans, 2010; Sweitzer, 2009; Trafford & Leshem, 2009).
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At Northcentral University, a for-profit university in California, online learning is about creating a
personalized learning experience for each student. The goal is to provide students with a rich, engaging,
professionally-relevant, and academically rigorous education. These goals are directly tied to the
University mission to educate professionals throughout the world and to provide an accessible
opportunity to earn a U.S. regionally accredited degree. Northcentral students are mentored one-to-one
by an all doctoral faculty via online delivery modalities including the dissertation research phase of the
doctoral program. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching revised the Basic
Classification categories of the Carnegie Classifications of Institutions of Higher Education™ in 2005
(further refined in 2010) to distinguish three levels of research institutions: RU/VH (very high research
activity), RU/H (high research activity), and DRU (doctoral/research university) (CFAT, 2011; Planty et al.,
2008; USDOE, 2011). As a research institution, the Carnegie Foundation classifies NCU as a DRU and the
Graduate Instructional Program as “Doctoral, professional dominant” (DOC/Prof) (CFAT, 2011).
Northcentral commits to helping students excel academically and professionally, which may be
seen as an ideal outcome in the preparation of doctoral candidates as scholar-practitioners who are able
to concurrently live and work within their practice settings, and likely continue this work long after the
hooding ceremony. We, at NCU among many others, know well they are certainly not all teaching and
return to practice as doctoral-prepared practitioners and researchers. The individual’s return on
investment of a doctoral education can be significant for career advancement, including career change,
compensation, leadership development, and life quality intimations resulting from the attainment of the
doctoral degree (Boud & Tennant, 2006; Boud & Lee, 2009). Gains for society have been seen for the 1.7
million research (practitioner and traditional) doctorates awarded and measured since 1957 across all
sectors of higher education that have enhanced the personal and professional lives of executive
leadership across academic, governmental, institutional, employer and employee perspectives (National
Science Foundation, 2009). Were they measured collectively, the returns from a doctoral education to
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the world have perhaps been even greater. The return to a knowledge-driven society from a prepared
doctoral-level scholar-practitioner continues to be in the use of formal inquiry to solve the real problems
and discover innovations that benefit the field (Offerman, 2011; Walker, Golde, Jones, Bueschel, &
Hutchings, 2008).
As part of this commitment to students, a Graduate School was organized in 2011 to oversee all
dissertation research completed by doctoral candidates. The Graduate School was reorganized in 2012
around a fulltime faculty model to support the needs of students entering the dissertation stage of their
program, and to provide the university’s one-to-one learning model as a one-to-one dissertation
advising model. Northcentral University hired over 60 full-time, doctoral degree faculty members to
support student engagement, learning, and retention, which has seen mixed results in doctoral student
attrition.
The Ombuds Intervention
Doctoral program attrition rates continue to be a problem across U.S. doctoral programs and
demographic considerations (Council of Graduate Schools, 2007, 2010, 2012a, 2012b, 2015), and yet, as
the U.S. has emerged from a challenged economy and the 2008 Great Recession, individuals with
doctoral degrees continued to hold the lowest unemployment rate (1.9%) of all degree levels and the
highest median weekly income (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). While the Graduate School was hiring
full-time faculty, an Office of the Ombudsperson was established as an intervention to reduce
complaints by students to external agencies, including regional accreditors, the Better Business Bureau,
state agencies, and professional accreditors. This office was housed within the Office of the Provost to
provide autonomy and authority in decision-making and conflict resolution options.
The Office of the Ombudsperson collaborated closely with the Office of Legal Affairs to address
student concerns. Many students complained of their inability to complete the dissertation process. In
the spring of 2013, a cohort of 212 doctoral candidates were identified as being within a year to
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allowable maximum time for completion of their doctoral program and at significant risk for not
completing. The identified students were given the opportunity to participate in a voluntary program
requiring the execution of a learning contract. As part of the learning contract agreement, the student
was given the opportunity to work directly with a dissertation chair for up to four hours per week over
the duration of a year. The 212 students enrolled in the Ombuds Pathway to Completion were tracked
throughout their enrollment in the program and their milestone completion timelines and rates of
completion were recorded.
Student milestone completion and degree completion were tracked for all 212 students from
April 2013 until February 25, 2015. A total of 97 students completed the concept paper milestone. The
mean completion time was 67 days. A total of 134 students completed a dissertation proposal
milestone. The mean completion time was 91 days. Finally, as of February, 25 2015, 132 students had
completed their dissertation manuscript. The mean completion time was 182 days. In addition, 80% of
these 212 students successfully completed their doctoral degrees. The other 20% either opted to
withdraw, were dismissed, or accepted an alternative degree or certificate (Master’s Degree or Post-
Master’s Certificate).
Graduate School Changes
In response to some of the early successes of the Ombuds Intervention, the Graduate School
was reorganized under the leadership of a new Dean, who had served as a reviewer in the Ombuds
Pathway to Completion. She restructured the review process for milestones, which had previously
required approval from a blind review board prior to student advancement. The new model afforded
more discretion of the dissertation chair to approve milestones. At each level (CP, DP, and DM) students
were to receive at least one review from a Subject Matter Expert and a Methodological Committee
Member, but the chair could opt to accept the recommended revisions or not, and to advance the
student to the next milestone.
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Unfortunately, despite the investment in the full-time faculty model and the reorganization of
the graduate school, students have continued to experience low rates of completion, which increases
student dissatisfaction. Below is a table of students in the dissertation phase of their program (Table 1).
The milestones students must achieve as part of the dissertation process include the concept paper (CP),
dissertation proposal (DP), dissertation manuscript (DM), and once the student completes the oral
defense, he or she graduates from the program and earns a practitioner doctorate (EdD or DBA) or the
doctor of philosophy degree (PhD).
Table 1: Milestone Completion by Course Number
Number of
Courses
None
CP
DP
DM
Finished
Total
26
3
2
63
23
9
8
2
47
21
8
20
8
2
46
19
7
26
16
2
39
89
5
38
6
34
0
13
4
163
8
1812
44
0
36
4
13
4
263
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Literature Review
Students perceive the quality of interactions provided by University stakeholders as a key to
their success. When expectations are not met, students begin to question an institution’s integrity and
may develop an attitude which leads to formal complaints (Ang & Buttle, 2012). Complaint management
is a process that needs defining and operationalizing in today’s educational platforms. Professional skills
are critical to assist students in the resolution of complaints. Having the ability to successfully resolve
student complaints is driven by the complaint handling abilities of those interacting with the student
(Hill, 2012). In higher education institutions conflict can result in legal challenges to the institution and
negatively affect academic reputation and enrollment.
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Studentfaculty conflict is still a problem, with more than 1/3 of students reporting a conflict
with a faculty member (Reddy & Lindenfrost, 2009). Conflict between faculty and students can result in
an intense situation for both members of the dyad (Spaulding & Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2011). The most
common complaints against faculty usually involve student dissatisfaction with teaching, whereas
complaints against students often involve allegations of student cheating or plagiarism (Tucker, 2014).
Moreover, student complaints can result in major (and public) conflicts, especially if there is a
perception that the school’s due process was violated (Tucker, 2014). Managing the conflict correctly is
the key to a successful resolution. Three strategies enhance the probability for a successful outcome:
1. Shape the conflict so it can become a problem-solving process,
2. Understand the basic attitudes of all involved in the conflict and the stakes involved, and
3. Invite the disputing parties to assess if they believe they can come to some agreement or
compromise (Tucker, 2014).
During conflict, people may perceive a threat to their self-worth (Scudder, & La Croix, 2013).
Acknowledging each person’s feelings can help raise morale and reduce defensive and defiant attitudes.
Helping participants view their situation as an opportunity to come to an agreeable solution helps
everyone focus on the issues, not their emotions (Tucker, 2014). It is optimal for participants to take a
step back to understand why the problem exists and grasp the actual root cause of the issue. Once all
parties know the “why” behind the problem, resolution can begin. By focusing on the facts, assumptions
are eliminated and individuals are able to understand in the specific resolution required.
Student Retention
Kara and DeShields (2004) emphasized the importance of recognizing factors that contribute to
student satisfaction in for-profit, consumer-oriented educational institutions of higher learning. Gilliam
and Kristonis (2006) recommend institutions examine and identify problems related to doctoral student
attrition and retention. Helgesen and Nesset (2007) suggested student loyalty is linked positively to
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student satisfaction. Tinto (2005) noted that integrative college experiences increase the likelihood of
student persistence to degree completion. Fike and Fike (2008) concluded it is essential to use data to
guide decisions supportive of retention and to provide insight into factors influencing student retention.
Researchers note that it is always more cost effective to retain students than replace students (Flegle,
Pavone, & Flegle, 2009).
Wang, Shannon, and Ross (2013) suggested courses be designed to promote self-regulated
learning behaviors in students. In the online course, student self-regulation is often accomplished
through the integration of faculty feedback provided on assignments, assessments, and discussions
(Hattie & Temperly, 2007). Feedback allows students to master content knowledge. Such mastery is
closely tied with degree completion and student retention (Scott, Bailey, & Kienzl, 2006). Effective
feedback also increases student satisfaction, which is linked to improved retention rates (Hattie &
Temperly, 2007). Students showed greater levels of satisfaction with the instructor and performed
better academically when they received personalized feedback from the instructor on assignments
(Gallien & Oomen-Early, 2008). Meyer and McNeal (2011) noted improvement in student learning
occurs when faculty provided effective feedback and thereby increased student access to course
content and expectations. The combination of intense focus (Anastasi, 2007) and interaction is
necessary in order to increase and to support motivation and achievement (Kucsera & Zimmaro, 2010;
Lee & Horsfall, 2010).
Situated Dissertation Advising
We recommend that a formal model be established to articulate a collective and consistent
approach to situated dissertation research advising (Lave & Wenger, 1991) and to continue the
development of a multi-faceted and technology-mediated doctoral community of practice to support a
situated dissertation advising model (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Salter-Dvorak, 2014). This approach would
involve dissertation chair training that would encompass the components of situated dissertation
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research advising that would include an understanding of the essential components of effective
dissertation research supervision and mentoring within a technology-mediated doctoral community of
practice and self-directed doctoral learning as substantiated by the current research to improve doctoral
program persistence and completion:
The chair should develop agency and mentoring skill set (Bégin & Gérard, 2013; Salter-Dvorak,
2014; Willis & Carmichael, 2011).
A quality chair-candidate relationship and healthy communication should be fostered (Bitzer,
2011; Salter-Dvorak, 2014; Spaulding & Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2011; Stallone, 2011)
The chair should provide mentoring tailored to the needs of each candidate (Bitzer, 2011).
Chairs should encourage candidates to set due dates for milestone completion early in the
process (Hedge, 2013), and the chair should help supervise the meeting of those deadlines.
Candidates should be provided with regular feedback to help them polish drafts and refine
aspects of the dissertation that are not up to standards (Hedge, 2013).
Chairs should provide the candidate with support and advocacy when disagreements arise
among the committee (Hedge, 2013).
The chair should celebrate mini milestones with the candidate along the way to help encourage
continued motivation (Hedge, 2013).
Armed with these skills and mentoring ethos, it is highly likely that increases in student persistence,
retention, and completion will result.
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... The key determinants of American doctoral student persistence and online dissertation research completion have highlighted the relationship between the doctoral candidate and dissertation research supervisor, mentor, or chair (Rigler, Bowlin, Sweat, Watts, & Throne, 2017;Throne et al., 2017;Throne, Shaw, Fore, O'Connor Duffy, & Clowes, 2015). These key elements have also emphasized the necessity for the online doctoral research supervisor to possess the very human traits of trust, honesty, and effective com-Dissertation Research Supervisor Agency for U.S. Online Doctoral Research Supervision munication, especially for online, hybrid, or part-time doctoral degree programs (Black, 2017;Gardner & Gopaul, 2012;Rademaker, Duffy, Wetzler, & Zaikina-Montgomery, 2016;Throne & Duffy, 2016). ...
... In a critical review of the factors of doctoral student attrition, the authors previously noted the high attrition rate in U.S. doctoral programs has proffered much research to explain why doctoral students exit these programs, regardless of delivery modality, prior to dissertation completion (Baghurst, 2013;Rigler et al., 2017). In addition, the authors have identified that a positive, relational, and nonhierarchical online mentoring supervision style was a key determinant for doctoral degree and dissertation research completion in an online U.S. doctoral education program (Throne & Duffy, 2016;Throne et al., 2018;Throne et al., 2017;Throne et al., 2015). Yet, online doctoral students repeatedly report problematic relationships with the dissertation research supervisor as an impediment to dissertation completion regardless of delivery modality (Akagi & Fore, 2016;Levitch & Shaw, 2014;Rigler et al., 2017). ...
... Gardner (2009Gardner ( , 2010 and other past researchers have also reported U.S. dissertation researchers, regardless of spatiotemporal distance from the research supervisor or doctoral peers, require socialization (Cornér et al., 2017;Gardner & Gopaul, 2012;Rigler et al., 2017) and access to regular and instructional communication with the dissertation research supervisor (Holmes, Trimble, & Morrison-Danner, 2014). In addition, this relationship must be socialized to involve meaningful interaction (Lave, 1991(Lave, , 1996Rademaker et al., 2016;Throne et al., 2015). Several researchers have reported some U.S. research supervisors who were overly involved in their own research agenda and not regularly available for supervision, interaction, and feedback were detrimental to dissertation research completion (Holmes et al., 2014;Rigler et al., 2017;Van de Schoot, Yerkes, Mouw, & Sonneveld, 2013). ...
Chapter
This chapter critically explores the construct of agency from a dissertation research supervisor perspective. While the literature has expanded in the exploration of student agency, little focus has been given to the construct from a research supervisor agency stance. Current research into doctoral completion has shown the relationship between supervisor and dissertation writer as critical to persistence and completion. However, less investigation has focused on the aspects of dissertation supervisor agency and the evolution to a high mentoring approach, especially for online doctoral students. The conceptual inquiry utilizes the lens of Lave and Wenger's situated learning theory to view how research supervisor agency can foster and guide doctoral scholars to consider researcher positionality and move from the margins of the doctoral learning community to the center of scholarly life and post-doctoral practice-based research and evidence-based decision making.
... As members of the doctoral learning community, doctoral faculty, doctoral research supervisors, and the ancillary members of the community such as library and information science (LIS) professionals, can support the doctoral scholar to move from the periphery to the center of the doctoral learning community (Throne, 2020). As the dissertation research supervisor acknowledges their role to foster enhanced student agency for the doctoral scholar, situated learning can evolve into situated dissertation advising (Throne et al., 2015). When a quality research supervisor-doctoral scholar relationship is established and the supervisor provides mentoring tailored to the student's agency and research skillset, doctoral scholar agency may be enhanced (Rigler et al., 2017;Sweat et al., 2021;Throne, Shaw et al., 2015), which has been shown to improve doctoral student persistence and completion, scholar-practitionerleader preparation, dissertation research completion, and graduate research dissemination (Prager et al., 2020). ...
... As the dissertation research supervisor acknowledges their role to foster enhanced student agency for the doctoral scholar, situated learning can evolve into situated dissertation advising (Throne et al., 2015). When a quality research supervisor-doctoral scholar relationship is established and the supervisor provides mentoring tailored to the student's agency and research skillset, doctoral scholar agency may be enhanced (Rigler et al., 2017;Sweat et al., 2021;Throne, Shaw et al., 2015), which has been shown to improve doctoral student persistence and completion, scholar-practitionerleader preparation, dissertation research completion, and graduate research dissemination (Prager et al., 2020). As such, the study employed the continued lens of situated learning theory to consider the four aspects of doctoral student agency. ...
Chapter
This chapter presents the results of a systematic review of the current scholarship into doctoral student agency from a U.S. perspective. In past work, the authors and others have explored doctoral student and research supervisor agency from the perspective of scholar-practitioner agency within the doctoral learning community as well as the post-doctorate practice-based research agenda. This chapter focuses on a systematic analysis of the current scholarship published since 2019 that has continued to examine the aspects of doctoral student voice, agency, academic identity, and dissemination of graduate student research. Theoretical perspectives are drawn from the scholarship of situated learning theory and other theories that define how and why doctoral students are able to move from the periphery of the doctoral learning community to entrance into the scholarly academic and publishing community.
... As members of the doctoral learning community, doctoral faculty, doctoral research supervisors, and the ancillary members of the community such as library and information science (LIS) professionals, can support the doctoral scholar to move from the periphery to the center of the doctoral learning community (Throne, 2020). As the dissertation research supervisor acknowledges their role to foster enhanced student agency for the doctoral scholar, situated learning can evolve into situated dissertation advising (Throne et al., 2015). When a quality research supervisor-doctoral scholar relationship is established and the supervisor provides mentoring tailored to the student's agency and research skillset, doctoral scholar agency may be enhanced (Rigler et al., 2017;Sweat et al., 2021;Throne, Shaw et al., 2015), which has been shown to improve doctoral student persistence and completion, scholar-practitioner-leader preparation, dissertation research completion, and graduate research dissemination (Prager et al., 2020). ...
... As the dissertation research supervisor acknowledges their role to foster enhanced student agency for the doctoral scholar, situated learning can evolve into situated dissertation advising (Throne et al., 2015). When a quality research supervisor-doctoral scholar relationship is established and the supervisor provides mentoring tailored to the student's agency and research skillset, doctoral scholar agency may be enhanced (Rigler et al., 2017;Sweat et al., 2021;Throne, Shaw et al., 2015), which has been shown to improve doctoral student persistence and completion, scholar-practitioner-leader preparation, dissertation research completion, and graduate research dissemination (Prager et al., 2020). As such, the study employed the continued lens of situated learning theory to consider the four aspects of doctoral student agency. ...
Preprint
This chapter presents the results of a systematic review of the current scholarship into doctoral student agency from a global perspective. In past work, the authors with others have explored doctoral student and research supervisor agency from the perspective of scholar-practitioner agency within the doctoral learning community as well as the post-doctorate practice-based research agenda. This chapter focuses on an analysis of the current scholarship published since 2019 that has continued to examine the aspects of doctoral student voice, agency, and academic identity. Theoretical perspectives were drawn from the scholarship for the theoretical framework of situated learning theory to view how and why doctoral students specifically are able to move from the periphery of the doctoral learning community to center with agency.
... Further, the relationships with each of the author's initial dissertation chair, and subsequent chairs, positively impacted the author's persistence as a doctoral student. The main determinants of doctoral student persistence and doctoral dissertation completion have emphasized a positive dissertation mentor/ doctoral scholar relationship including traits such as honesty, effective communication skills, and trust (Throne et al., 2015;Throne & Duffy, 2016). These traits were present with both of the author's dissertation committee chairs. ...
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For some doctoral practitioner-researchers, the methods used within autoethnography and other self-inquiry-based research methods are appropriate for a practitioner dissertation as the phenomenon of inquiry is a central human, intrinsic, and experiential self-focused construct. The tenets of autoethnography and other self-as-subject research support the view that new knowledge can be discoverable from within the individual lived experience, and this chapter presents current trends and scholarship for the use of autoethnography and other self-inquiry research methods for practice-based doctoral research. The chapter also presents one case from a recent doctoral autoethnographer to illustrate the experience of a practice-based autoethnographic dissertation study within a practitioner doctoral program.
... Further, the relationships with each of the author's initial dissertation chair, and subsequent chairs, positively impacted the author's persistence as a doctoral student. The main determinants of doctoral student persistence and doctoral dissertation completion have emphasized a positive dissertation mentor/ doctoral scholar relationship including traits such as honesty, effective communication skills, and trust (Throne et al., 2015;Throne & Duffy, 2016). These traits were present with both of the author's dissertation committee chairs. ...
Chapter
For some doctoral practitioner-researchers, the methods used within autoethnography and other self-inquiry based research methods are appropriate for a practitioner dissertation as the phenomenon of inquiry is a central human, intrinsic, and experiential self-focused construct. The tenets of autoethnography and other self-as-subject research support the view that new knowledge can be discoverable from within the individual lived experience and this chapter presents current trends and scholarship for the use of autoethnography and other self-inquiry research methods for practice-based doctoral research. The chapter also presents one case from a recent doctoral autoethnographer to illustrate the experience of a practice-based autoethnographic dissertation study within a practitioner doctoral program.
... Historically, the term positionality was first situated within the spatiotemporal aspects of the geographical and economic sciences among other disciplines (England, 1994;Hirsch, 1976;McDowell, 1992;Merton, 1972;Pratt, 1992;Rose, 1997;Sack, 1974), and the term evolved to researcher positionality within the emergence of the interpretivist paradigm and research-based knowledge construction of the 21st century (Merriam, et al., 2001;Milner, 2007). The authors have previously described researcher positionality within the foundational contexts of doctoral learning via research, participation in the doctoral academic community, and situated knowledge whereby doctoral scholars narratively identify the placement of researcher objectivity and subjectivity within an inquiry at the doctoral level and narrates the complexities of the researcher's perspective and positionality within the doctoral community (Lave, 1996;Lave & Wenger, 1991;Throne et al., 2015). More simply, a practitioner doctoral scholar may reduce bias, increase transparency, and strengthen trustworthiness of the data and data analysis through the articulation of researcher positionality as part of the proposal for a doctoral research study. ...
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This chapter presents researcher positionality within the specific context of practitioner doctoral research or practice-based research. The explication of researcher positionality is an essential precursor to practitioner doctoral inquiry for scholar-practitioners and can serve as a key anchor and measure for the scholar-practitioner’s journey as new investigator and entrance to the scholarly academic community. The chapter also describes how the use of reflexivity may enhance fidelity of researcher positionality within practice-based doctoral research that informs professional practice. In addition, considerations and illustrations are offered for the evaluation and articulation of researcher positionality within the practitioner doctoral research journey that draws on the insider-outsider role of the scholar-practitioner as new researcher and seasoned practitioner.
... Further, the relationships with each of the author's initial dissertation chair, and subsequent chairs, positively impacted the author's persistence as a doctoral student. The main determinants of doctoral student persistence and doctoral dissertation completion have emphasized a positive dissertation mentor/ doctoral scholar relationship including traits such as honesty, effective communication skills, and trust (Throne et al., 2015;Throne & Duffy, 2016). These traits were present with both of the author's dissertation committee chairs. ...
Chapter
For some doctoral practitioner-researchers, the methods used within autoethnography and other self-inquiry based research methods are appropriate for a practitioner dissertation as the phenomenon of inquiry is a central human, intrinsic, and experiential self-focused construct. The tenets of autoethnography and other self-as-subject research support the view that new knowledge can be discoverable from within the individual lived experience and this chapter presents current trends and scholarship for the use of autoethnography and other self-inquiry research methods for practice-based doctoral research. The chapter also presents one case from a recent doctoral autoethnographer to illustrate the experience of a practice-based autoethnographic dissertation study within a practitioner doctoral program.
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Using an illustrative case study, this chapter explores the two-year design process of a practice-based Doctor of Education degree program in an online university. Emerging from the continuous improvement lens, the redesign process centered around the examination of the purpose of the degree in the context of meeting the educational needs of practitioners in the field. Principally, this program redesign led to greater differentiation between the practitioner-based EdD degree and the PhD to provide students with distinct options for meeting their personal and professional goals.
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This chapter focuses on the use of a customized backward instructional design process used to re-engineer a virtual university's integration of institutional learning outcomes within a practice-based online dissertation process for a doctorate in education (EdD). The EdD will incorporate specialization areas in instructional design, learning analytics, and e-learning and through a lens of best assessment practices for doctoral education this program will highlight the unique considerations for virtual environments especially those that incorporate asynchronous instructional elements in program and course design. The education doctorate is leadership-based and practitioner-focused to prepare candidates as scholar practitioners who utilize the learning outcomes for research-based decision making and problem solutions within their scope of practice. A new three chapter dissertation allows candidates to solve a practice-based problem as a culminating doctoral learning activity which will be assessed across institutional outcomes and expectations.
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The purpose of this phenomenological inquiry was to examine persistence factors associated with the successful completion of a doctoral degree in the field of education. Standardized open-ended interviews with a purposeful sample of 76 participants (42 females, 34 males) generated data leading to themes describing what doctoral students experience (personal sacrifice, delayed ex-pectations, dissertation challenges) and the personal factors (motivations for pursuing the degree, reasons for persisting, strategies for dissertation completion), social factors (support systems and coping mechanisms), and institutional factors (program characteristics) participants associated with their persistence. These findings provide a composite understanding of the essence of the struggles inherent in the journey and the factors associated with doctoral persistence. Implications and recommendations for doctoral candidates are discussed.
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Doctoral supervision is one of the primary factors affecting doctoral degree completion and attrition rates. Basing their work on the concept of cognitive apprenticeship, the authors investigated the role that doctoral supervisors should adopt in supporting their students, in light of feedback from the latter. A total of 533 doctoral students completed an online survey, in which they were asked to describe their experience using a metaphor. Although the issue of support is rarely referred to directly in the resulting metaphors, the latter do seem to suggest that supervisors should adopt a coaching role.
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Benchmarking data provided by 144 organisations across four industry sectors are consolidated and mined to generate insights into the relationship between complaints-handling processes, as defined in ISO 10002, the International Standard for Complaints Handling, and a number of marketing-related outcomes. Factor analysis of the 17 complaints-handling process variables yields five factors accounting for 62.6% of the overall variance. The most important factors are: visibility and accessibility of the complaints-handling policy and process; easy-to-use process for all complainants; and responsiveness of the complaints-handling process. Collectively these factors account for 24% of the variance in the desired marketing-related outcomes, most notably levels of customer advocacy and customer satisfaction. Although there have been a number of empirical investigations of International Standards, this is the first empirical study to investigate the influence of ISO 10002-conformant complaints-handling processes on marketing-related and broader outcomes. We conclude that complaints-handling processes that conform to ISO 10002 can yield significant marketing-related benefits, and we make recommendations for marketing practitioners.
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Professional doctorates designed to meet the needs of particular groups (education, nursing, business, law, etc.) have been established, and the PhD now encompasses a wide range of academic pursuits. However, the combination of the PhD and designated professional doctorates does not exhaust the range of doctoral‐level education. Is there a particular role for a doctoral‐level qualification for those who do not wish to follow the academic path of the PhD, or the designated path of existing professional doctorates? This paper argues that there is such a need, and identifies and explores some of the issues to be faced in addressing such a need. The paper focuses on three challenges for academic practice in doctoral education arising from this. First, the impetus for new forms of doctoral education is considered and what this implies for the diversity of current provision. Second, the target population for new professionally orientated doctorates is examined, namely ‘new knowledge workers’, those who operate in areas not covered by specialized doctorates and those who wish to negotiate transdisciplinary programs. Finally, the paper examines issues universities face in meeting the needs of new populations of doctoral candidates, particularly the need to develop new academic cultural practices.
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Doctoral student attrition occurs across academic disciplines and presents problems for noncompleting students and the programs from which they withdraw. The following research question guided the present study, "What is the experience of doctoral attrition in counselor education?" Six late-stage doctoral noncompleters from counselor education programs participated in research interviews that were analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Results showed two distinct types of attrition. Five participants reported a negative experience of encountering barriers that acted against the internal desire of the participants to obtain the doctorate. One participant reported a positive experience of an internal change that altered the priority of continuing in doctoral study. Results of the present study have implications for prospective and current doctoral students. © 2011: Brad Willis, Karla D. Carmichael, and Nova Southeastern University.
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This article considers how course design accommodates the adaptation of L2 students into the early stages of the master's dissertation (Social Sciences and Humanities) at a UK university. I present a contrastive process-oriented analysis of two students' experiences on different courses, extracted from a 13-month ethnographic study in which students' self-reports (journals; interviews) were triangulated with their assignments, interviews with lecturers and classroom observation. I identify two ‘literacy events’ in the early stages: discussing the topic and preparing the proposal. In order to make visible these events, I deploy Lave and Wenger's Community of Practice model, while taking a post-structuralist view of learning as a dynamic between language, identities, power relations, affordances and agency. Findings show unequal support for these events on the two courses; I argue that this exemplifies significantly different ideologies relating to the accommodation of L2 students, and discuss implications for course design.
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The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship among students’ characteristics, self-regulated learning, technology self-efficacy, and course outcomes in online learning settings. Two hundred and fifty-six students participated in this study. All participants completed an online survey that included demographic information, the modified motivation strategies learning questionnaire, the online technology self-efficacy scale, the course satisfaction questionnaire, and the final grades. The researchers used structural equation modeling to examine relationships among student characteristics, self-regulated learning, technology self-efficacy, and course outcomes. Based on the results from the final model, students with previous online learning experiences tended to have more effective learning strategies when taking online courses, and hence, had higher levels of motivation in their online courses. In addition, when students had higher levels of motivation in their online courses, their levels of technology self-efficacy and course satisfaction increased. Finally, students with higher levels of technology self-efficacy and course satisfaction also earned better final grades. Based on the findings, we recommend that instructors design courses in a way that can promote students’ self-regulated learning behaviors in online learning settings and that students in online classes, as in traditional classes, set aside a regular time to concentrate on the course. Also, institutions should provide user-friendly online learning platforms and workshops for instructors and students to facilitate the teaching and learning experiences.
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Why do teachers and other educational practitioners become researchers of their own practice? Is their primary motivation one of self-development, the attainment of a doctoral qualification, or the desire to improve outcomes for their learners? Practitioner research is often believed to bring about transformation, particularly in its more collaborative action forms. In these forms of research, the focus is on improvement through cycles of intervention in a process that goes beyond evaluation of one's own practice toward engaging others in organisational change. Do those who sign up to doctoral study with a strong emphasis on practitioner research seek such transformation? Where do they see the potential for transformation located; in their own classrooms, in changes to educational systems or in raising the awareness of policy makers? These questions are explored through the voices of students enrolled on a professional doctorate programme in Learning and Learning Contexts.