Date of Award

Fall 12-20-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Middle-Secondary Education and Instructional Technology

First Advisor

Wanjira Kinuthia, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Frances Atkinson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Laurie Dias, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Christopher Domaleski, Ph.D.

Abstract

This study sought to understand why some students at Eagle University (pseudo.) complete the doctoral program in instructional technology while others do not. The study explores factors and issues affecting doctoral attrition and completion of the Ph.D. in instructional technology (IT) in the College of Education at Eagle University, a major research university with very high research activity. Participants in the study were eleven former doctoral students from Eagle University (pseudo.), six of whom met the requirements for graduation (completers) and five of whom ended the pursuit of the doctoral degree in instructional technology at EU (non-completers). A qualitative study informed by phenomenology, the purpose of the study was to explore these phenomena from the perspective of the students. Postmodernism served as the theoretical framework. Participants were interviewed using the structured interview guide developed by the researcher.

Two important findings were that only one of the eleven students knew what to expect from the program; and that completers were more likely to report that their primary motivation for pursuing the Ph.D. was for personal satisfaction. Recommendations were made based on student feedback, and included implications for students as well as implications for the university/program. Examples of advice for students were: 1) contemplate their goal(s) in pursuing the Ph.D. and consider the impact if something happened to alter that goal, and 2) seek out doctoral support groups and begin to establish relationships with current members. Two selected recommendations for the university/program were 1) develop a pre-application seminar or eLearning module to provide potential doctoral students with a realistic understanding of the program, and 2) consider developing a mentoring program that matched more experienced students or non-advisory professors to new students.

Results of the study indicated that multiple factors affected both completers and non-completers; and these factors were often similar. However, among the key factors separating completers from non-completers were the determination of the student and the quality of the advisor relationship.

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