Title

Research and Professional Development Needs and Expectations of Doctoral Students: A Critical Reflection

Location

1049

Format Type

Paper

Format Type

Paper

Start Date

12-1-2017 1:15 PM

End Date

12-1-2017 3:05 PM

Abstract

Doctoral students face two major challenges in their degree programs in the United States: completing their doctoral programs and preparing their professional life. The average attrition rate of doctoral students has been consistently 40-50% within the last few decades. Additionally, there is a perennial disconnect between doctoral education and the workplace. To address these problems, we conducted an action research in this study to explore students’ current and future professional development needs, students’ perspectives, experiences, expectations, and issues related to conducting their dissertations, and students’ expectations from their dissertation chairs. This study took place in a career oriented, for profit higher education institution in the United States. We used a purposeful sampling method to include 50 doctoral students who participated in the University research workshops to take part in this study. We collected data through face-to-face focus groups with 3-4 members. We used a content analysis approach to analyze the collected data based on the main three research [JL1] questions. We categorized the collected data into major themes. The themes revealed the students’ current professional needs included internal actions and skills development; their future professional development were application of knowledge, scholarship activities, and continuous skill improvement; their expectations for conducting doctoral dissertations were addressing time, resources, and discipline challenges, need for communication, and desire for mastery; and their expectations from doctoral chairs included chairs being communicative, engaged, resourceful, team players, and available. Such findings may fill the gap in literature and help educators further improve quality of doctoral programs.

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Jan 12th, 1:15 PM Jan 12th, 3:05 PM

Research and Professional Development Needs and Expectations of Doctoral Students: A Critical Reflection

1049

Doctoral students face two major challenges in their degree programs in the United States: completing their doctoral programs and preparing their professional life. The average attrition rate of doctoral students has been consistently 40-50% within the last few decades. Additionally, there is a perennial disconnect between doctoral education and the workplace. To address these problems, we conducted an action research in this study to explore students’ current and future professional development needs, students’ perspectives, experiences, expectations, and issues related to conducting their dissertations, and students’ expectations from their dissertation chairs. This study took place in a career oriented, for profit higher education institution in the United States. We used a purposeful sampling method to include 50 doctoral students who participated in the University research workshops to take part in this study. We collected data through face-to-face focus groups with 3-4 members. We used a content analysis approach to analyze the collected data based on the main three research [JL1] questions. We categorized the collected data into major themes. The themes revealed the students’ current professional needs included internal actions and skills development; their future professional development were application of knowledge, scholarship activities, and continuous skill improvement; their expectations for conducting doctoral dissertations were addressing time, resources, and discipline challenges, need for communication, and desire for mastery; and their expectations from doctoral chairs included chairs being communicative, engaged, resourceful, team players, and available. Such findings may fill the gap in literature and help educators further improve quality of doctoral programs.