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Toward a Better Understanding of Doctoral Degree Completion: Open Access

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ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATIONToward a Better Understanding of Doctoral Degree Completion:A 17-Year View of an Executive Leadership Doctoral ProgramThis study attempts to analyze factors that contribute to doctoral degreecompletion in one cohort based doctoral program over a period of seventeenyears. Four research questions were identified: What is the relationship betweendoctoral degree completion and student perceptions of three doctoral programfactors: research preparation, faculty involvement, and dissertationadvisor/advisee relationship; between doctoral degree completion and studentperception of a cohort experience; between doctoral degree completion anddoctoral student personality type as measured by the Singer-Loomis TypeDeployment Inventory (SL-TDI); and between student perception of cohortexperience and SL-TDI scores?The population consisted of 364 doctoral students in a nontraditionalcohort based program. Two samples were identified as "survey sample" and"personality sample". A 68-question survey was administered with a response rateof 61%. A quantitative associational study using descriptive statistics, reliabilitytests, correlational analysis and linear and logistical regression was designed toanalyze the data.Results of the study indicated that there was no correlation between degreecompletion and demographics. Three programs factors were found to besignificant in predicting completion: "Dissertation committee membersexperienced problems that hindered my progress"; "Faculty members haveencouraged me to pursue research questions that are of interest to me"; and"Required coursework in my doctoral program prepared me for writing mydissertation". No significant relationship was found between personality andcohort experience; however, two personality trait types (extroverted sensing andextroverted feeling) were significant in predicting doctoral degree completion andnoncompletion. Finally, a relationship was found between "I rely a great deal onother students in my cohort" and "small group work is beneficial to me" anddegree completion. The study also demonstrated that the constructs of the studywere reliable.Nine recommendations were made including expanding the use of thesurvey, recommendations regarding three significant program factors,accountability measures for dissertation committees and chairpersons, improvedmonitoring of attrition; further research in exploring the relationship betweenresearch efficacy and degree completion and among leadership, personality andresearch efficacy.

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