For several reasons, the process of writing and completing the doctoral dissertation has been identified as the most frequent road block for many promising scholars. The goal of this study is to help improve doctoral student dissertation completion by focusing on the crucial, central concerns of effective student writing, faculty mentoring, and the student-advisor relationship. Using an experimental, evocative autoethnographic approach, the following study shows the struggles and successes of a doctoral student managing himself, the university, “life”, and most importantly, his doctoral dissertation chair. The findings weave together strategies from storytelling (e.g., plot, characters, and scene) with the personal experiences of a doctoral student and advisor to show a highly contextual narrative and the influence of multiple factors. Furthermore, the findings demonstrate the value of situated learning theory (Lave & Wenger, 1991) as an approach to help students learn to write. Lastly, as a pedagogical tool, the narrative itself may be of practical value to graduate students, dissertation chairs, and policymakers for the purpose of improving graduate student success.


Autoethnography, Experimental, Doctoral Student, Dissertation, Narrative, Committee, Mentor, Identity, Learning, Relationship

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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