The impact of a longitudinal action research (LAR) project on the retention and success of students enrolled in a leadership studies doctoral program was the focus of this study. The purpose was to understand how the experiences obtained through an action research project, conducted over 12-15 months, affected students’ development while they completed the first two years of their doctoral coursework. Ten doctoral students, who were at various stages in their educational journey, were interviewed and asked to reflect upon their experiences while completing their LAR project. Findings indicated that the LAR project provided an opportunity to apply theoretical concepts and methodological tools obtained in their classes to real-world issues and concerns within their respective organizations. Additionally, students indicated that the experiences obtained through LAR projects increased appreciation for their doctoral education which, in turn, impacted their retention and success.


Doctoral Success, Action Research, Longitudinal, Student Success

Author Bio(s)

Dr. James L. Olive is an Associate Professor and Co-chair of the Department of Doctoral Studies and Advanced Programs at Ashland University. His research foci include diversity issues in higher education, exploring the ways in which social class, gender, race, sexuality and ability shape the human experience (intersectionality) and the intellectual and identity development of postsecondary students. He has published articles in College & University; the Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research; the Journal of LGBT Youth; and Forum: Qualitative Social Research. Dr. Olive has also authored two book chapters and is the co-editor of Intersectionality in Educational Research, by Stylus Publishing. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: jolive@ashland.edu.

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