Facing Reality: What Are Doctoral Students' Chances for Success?

Article excerpt

Doctoral education in the United States had been scrutinized because of high-attrition rates reported as an average of 50 percent. Emerging from Lovitts (2001), this research examined students' attendance at Mock Orals (MO) and its relationship to their academic and social integration, cognitive maps, goals, rates of attrition, and retention in a doctoral program at a private metropolitan university. In contrast to the traditional dissertation model, the MO--activities designed to prepare doctoral students for their oral-defense presentations by engaging them in periodic bi-annual practice presentations. Data indicated that 87.5 percent of matriculated students had been graduated--a higher than the national 50 percent completion rate by more than one third. Conversely, 12.5 percent of the students were Non-completers.

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Conversations with doctoral students enrolled in other programs have repeatedly brought to light the frustrations that many experience during dissertation stage. Indeed, the national average across decades and disciplines is 50 percent completion and conversely non-completion. Although I cannot cite it, I vaguely recall a newspaper account several years ago of a doctoral student in Florida who literally shot his mentor because he could not get enough time with that person or definitive direction to complete his research.

This scenario does not represent either my or my colleagues' experiences in our doctoral program. Because I was aware of these statistics indicating the low graduation rate of many students enrolled in advanced graduate work, who ultimately were named All But Dissertation (ABD), I wondered why my experience was different from what other universities were providing. I explored this topic with colleagues enrolled in the same program and we discussed the possibilities.

We concluded it could not be the curriculum because students were completing the coursework. It could not be identification of a topic because the ABDs had initiated research; they just had not completed it. It could not be the fact that most of us had multiple responsibilities, families to care for and careers that required attention and focus, because each of us had similar responsibilities. Of course, it might have been the professor each had chosen as mentor but mentors vary in every institution and it was not likely that God had graced us with the one perfect professor who would lead us through various obstacles that inevitably arise during the completion of any demanding scholarly venture. So what was it? The one component that we each experienced and that few other institutions provided was the Mock Orals.

What are Mock Orals?

A vivid contrast to the isolation of the traditional model of the dissertation process was the MO, a component of a doctoral degree program at a private metropolitan university. The MO were a group of activities designed to prepare doctoral students for their oral-defense presentations by engaging in a practice presentation. The value was in both the rehearsal of the oral defense presentation for the student who had completed the doctoral research and for the other students at all stages of the degree process, seeing and understanding what they would have to be prepared to do for their own future oral defense. The audience for the MO included in-progress students, program graduates, guests, university faculty, and professionals.

The MO provided doctoral candidates with a different experience from the isolation and angst provoked by an unorganized support system as Damrosch described (2000, November 17). They constituted a structured procedure that prepared students for their oral-defense examinations and, simultaneously, served as a cornerstone for creating the social and professional affiliations that numerous candidates in other institutions complained they lacked (Tinto, 1993). In addition, the MO apparently compelled certain students to continue to participate in them long after their terminal degree had been awarded.

Therefore the research I designed was an in-depth examination of the MO procedures that served as a component of the dissertation process for students from the time they entered into, to when they exited from, the doctoral degree program. The first thing I did was a historical review of the MO was conducted between 1991 and 2006, a fifteen-year period documented through questionnaires and interview protocols based on those of Lovitts (1996) and administered to former and current doctoral degree program students. Videotaped sessions provided a third primary source of data. Comparative analyses of these cumulative data were analyzed and recommendations were made based on the findings.

Methods and Procedures

Population

Two populations were utilized for this research project, the 1991 to 2006 Population, which permitted the calculation of the completion and non-completion percentages the Expanded Population, which included doctoral degree program graduates from 1977 to 1991.

Both the 1991 to 2006 Population and Expanded Population included three subgroups: Completers who were graduated; Non-completers who were matriculated doctoral degree program students and had not attended the doctoral degree program for at least four contiguous semesters--which for this study was Spring Semester 2004 or earlier; and In-progress students who were matriculated and/or had reached candidacy-status. These three subgroups were identified by cross-referencing data from four sources: the university's office of institutional research; the doctoral degree program's department files; the university's electronic database; and a list of graduates and students compiled for a doctoral program committee.

The 1991 to 2006 Population was comprised of 140 Completers, 20 Non-completers, and 56 In-progress students. The Expanded Population included an additional 22 Completers for a total of 162 Completers, 20 Non-completers, and 56 In-progress students.

Instrumentation

Questionnaires. Lovitts (1996) designed two questionnaires, Completer Questionnaire and Noncompleter Questionnaire, for use in her doctoral dissertation that similarly investigated the reasons for the high rate of doctoral-student attrition. The results were reported in her dissertation and subsequently published book, Leaving the Ivory Tower: The Causes and Consequences of Departure from Doctoral Study (2001). For this research, I modified both questionnaires and included an additional section that focused on the MO.

I developed a third questionnaire, the In-Progress Student Questionnaire (Church, 2009), based on Lovitts' (1996) Completer and Non-completer Questionnaires. It was created and subsequently subjected to a jury of experts in both research and instrument development to determine the extent of its construct validity and appropriateness for its intended task. Unanimous jury approval was obtained.

Interview protocols. The Non-Completer Telephone Interview Protocol was designed by Lovitts (1996) for use in her study. Lovitts designed that interview protocol to explore important issues that the questionnaire did not illuminate adequately. For this research, I modified Lovitts' protocol to create three variations--Completers, Non-completers, and In-progress Students Interview Protocols (Church, 2009). These, too, were subjected to a jury of experts in both research and instrument development to determine the extent of their construct validity and appropriateness for the intended task. When unanimous jury approval was obtained, the Completer Interview Protocol was piloted with two graduates of the doctoral degree program. When problems were identified, the Protocol was revised accordingly.

Observations. Seven Mock Orals (MO) presentations during three sessions, November 2005, March 2006, and November 2006, were videotaped for observation documentation. Additionally, I observed selected MO and collected field notes.

Procedures

A concise description of MO activities was developed. This narrative was created from the videotapes, interviews, this researcher's field notes and observations of the MO. A Digital Video Disk (DVD) of the October 29, 2006 MO session was created and edited for this research project. The DVD was created to provide researchers with a detailed description of how to replicate the MO component of the doctoral degree program.

Empirical evidence of matriculated students' rates of completion were gathered and data were cross-referenced to compile a final list of students and graduates in the doctoral degree program from 1991-2006. Results included 140 Completers, 20 Non-completers, and 56 In-progress students.

Completer, Non-completer, and In-progress questionnaires were utilized to obtain evidence of students' academic and social integration, cognitive maps, and goals.

Synthesis of the Cumulative Data

Research Question One. A description of the processes and procedures of MO was created.

Research Question Two. A DVD was created and edited from the MO event on October 29, 2006.

Research Question Three. A completion rate of 87.5 percent in the doctoral degree program between 1991 and 2006 provided evidence that this doctoral program was a standard of success and deserved investigation. As suggested by Tinto (1993), there was a need for substantive research about programs that had high-completion rates to contribute to a theory related to and model of successful doctoral-degree programs. This investigation added to the growing body of research about doctoral-student attrition and retention.

Research Question Four. In stark contrast to the national norm of 50 percent attrition in doctoral programs, the doctoral degree program exhibited a 12.5 percent non-completion rate.

Research Question Five. A large percentage of participants intended to obtain a doctoral degree at the onset of their doctoral degree program programs. These findings indicated that 76 percent of Completers and 66 percent o fin-progress students entered the program with an expectation of attaining a doctoral degree--an expectation realized by almost 88 percent of the students.

Research Question Six. The results of this question indicated that the MO were not associated with higher levels of commitment to the University. The questionnaire asked participants to rank by choice, (first, second, and so on), the University most preferred when they applied for admission. The question should have included a second component that would have indicated whether their commitment to the University had either increased or decreased after attending the doctoral degree program and then the degree of change in commitment, if any, should have been calculated and correlated with the frequency of attendance at MO. Fortunately, the interview findings provided further insight into this question.

One recent graduate said, "I found that there is more networking support than friends (in doctoral programs) at other institutions report. I think the University tries to provide support. I think that when you are in the School of Education you get more, especially as you move on." Ten interviewees responded that the primary reasons for attending the University was Professor Rita Dunn and the doctoral degree program, of which the MO was an integral component. A commitment to both the University and the doctoral degree program were developed over time after acceptance to the program and as a result of their treatment in the program by advisors, colleagues in the program, professors teaching courses, graduates of the program, their experiences in Thesis Seminar and, very strongly, by participation in MO. Furthermore, each of these activities contributed to an overall commitment differentially based upon individuals' experiences, perceptions, treatments, and degree of ease with which the doctoral degree program was completed.

Research Question Seven. This question investigated participants' commitment to academic and professional goals and their association to frequency of attendance at MO. These results revealed that participants' degree of commitment to their academic and professional goals was not associated with the frequency of their attendance at MO. My interpretation of these findings was that participants remained committed to their academic and professional goals regardless of their attendance at MO events. An alternative explanation was that the construction of the question did not accurately target its intent. For a future exploration of commitment to their doctoral institution, I would recommend revising the question especially with a population of professional educators who have occupied long-term professional positions.

Interview results indicated a high level of commitment to professional and academic goals. A majority of the Completers and In-progress students indicated a desire to gain knowledge, personal development, and advancement in professional careers as reasons for attending the doctoral degree program. Findings from questions directly related to MO indicated five themes, in order of prevalence: Preparation; Assistance; Networking; Anxiety; and Learning. Preparation was a theme interviewees reiterated throughout their conversations about MO and signified a strong connection between commitment to academic and professional goals and their continuing MO attendance. The primary purpose of MO, as defined by interviewees, was to prepare doctoral candidates for their Oral Defense presentations. I assert that interviewees' intense focus on the value of preparation during MO for their final Doctoral Oral Defense indicated a strong association between commitment to academic and professional goals and attendance of MO.

Research Questions Eight and Nine. These questions examined Academic Integration and Social Integration, respectively. The findings from analyses of the Academic Integration and Social Integration questionnaire data found that increased MO attendance was correlated at the p < .01 level of significance. I have addressed these questions jointly because the variable integration was common to both.

Before examining the construct of integration, it was critical to return to the historical foundation of United States' graduate programs, which was based on the German university model because that influence remains evident in current graduate programs. The German tradition encompassed two ideals: (a) Lernfreiheit, freedom to learn, which allowed students to pursue any course of study with no required curriculum before they applied for a final-degree examination; and (b) Lehrfreiheit, freedom to teach, which meant scholars could investigate any subject, draw their own conclusions, and present their findings through teaching and publications without interference from others (Lucas, 1994). I believe these ideals are laudable and have yielded high-level research from scholars who flourish in this open-ended type of learning environment. At the same time, the national evidence documented by other doctoral universities' high non-completion rates is that the highly independent Germanic model does not serve at least 50 percent of doctoral students--those who fall to complete their programs. It may be particularly representative of the group often described as ABD dropouts.

Durkheim (1987-1951) provided a theoretical model to explain this phenomenon with his construct Integration. Durkheim proposed that, when a society required individuals to assimilate and share commonly held beliefs, values, and concepts, its members were less likely to withdraw or depart. Conversely, he suggested that if a community promoted individualism, the social group would have a fragile hold on its members.

Lovitts (2001) applied Durkheim's theory to her own research on Non-completers and examined integration within universities, departments, and doctoral-degree programs. Lovitts' findings suggested that a portion of doctoral-student departure was explained by low integration, which she perceived as being largely the responsibility of universities and, in particular, departments and mentors. Returning to the historical foundation of graduate programs in the United States, low integration was considered an ideal within many universities because, in principle, it fostered freedom to learn and teach. The problem with that model was low integration that appeared to cultivate departure--or an inability to continue to completion.

Lovitts (1996) hypothesized that Durkheim's theory (1987-1951) was supported by the differences in percentages of Non-completers among disciplines. Denecke (2006) reported completion trends within disciplines as 65-76 percent in the life sciences, 60-71 percent in the physical sciences 55-59 percent in the social sciences and 33-50 percent in the humanities. Life sciences are highly structured disciplines that often require students and faculty members to work in teams. Consequently, these disciplines promoted a shared perspective, language, and motivation. In contrast, students working in the humanities and social-science disciplines often were required to work independently, frequently away from the university, and, thus, served to discourage viable personal ties to a group. Therefore, for many, it was much more difficult to achieve integration.

Durkheim (1987-1951) made a further distinction about integration and identified two subcategories, social and intellectual integration. Social integration refers to the day-to-day interactions between members of a society. Intellectual integration describes the sharing of widespread values within a group. Durkheim wrote that social and intellectual systems lead to membership within a society. In contrast, when individuals did not share their groups' commonly held beliefs, they experienced intellectual isolation. Moreover, if individuals did not have personal relationships with other members, they experienced social isolation. The social and intellectual formations of a social group and their integrative mechanisms were construed as facilitating membership by individuals.

Tinto (1987) and Lovitts (2001) examined integration in higher education using Durkheim's (1987-1951) social and intellectual construct. Tinto's research on undergraduate attrition and retention found that social integration was the more influential component. He then suggested that, for graduate students, intellectual integration would be the critical dynamic. Lovitts rephrased the term intellectual integration to academic integration. She found academic integration as the more influential element for doctoral students.

Based on the research on learning styles (Dunn & Griggs, 2004), it is likely that some doctoral students--particularly those who function best independently, would flourish in a program that permitted extensive choices and flexibility. Conversely, other doctoral students who require structure and authoritative guidance are likely to succeed best in a tightly-structured and well-supervised program. Therefore, it might behoove doctoral-program administrators to experiment with offering two possible paths to this graduate degree--one with an essentially elective-but-approved, and the other with a highly prescriptive course of study. They then could identify the learning styles of students who chose each course of study and compare the rates of completion of those whose traits are complemented by, in contrast with those whose traits are dissonant from the path each elected.

Never-the-less, the MO facilitated high levels of academic and social integration as supported by analyses of the questionnaire data concerning increased MO attendance as it correlated (at the p < .01 level of significance) with Academic Integration and Social Integration. Additionally, interview results also supported this analysis. When interviewees were asked what the primary purpose of MO was, without hesitation most responded that it was preparation for the final Oral Defense. Participants also answered that the secondary purpose of MO was networking. In addition, the doctoral degree program's 87.5 percent completion is quite similar to the 65-76 percent in the life sciences as reported by Denecke (2006).

The MO provided a framework within which doctoral degree program students: learned the history of the Instructional Leadership branch of knowledge; become conversant in the uses of the best concepts, practices, and research within that domain; constructed new knowledge; and shared that knowledge with others, both within and outside the field (Richardson, 2003). The MO was the culminating experience doctoral degree program students had before their individual Oral Defense; it was the sum total of all their academic work. By having the MO a component of the doctoral degree program by which beginning-through-advanced students observed as part of a larger, task-focused community, academic integration was facilitated in the earliest stages and expanded throughout students' entire degree program. As one In-progress student said, "The MO is the exemplar."

Social Integration was promoted by the community environment of MO. Audience members included faculty, Completers, In-progress students, and guests. While inquiries during the question-and-answer periods were limited to only those participants who held a doctoral degree, the intervals both before and after MO presentations and during meal breaks, evidenced high levels of social and professional engagement. This can be observed on the DVD created as multi-modality documentation for this research project. Furthermore, many Completers attend MO for years after being graduated from the University. Social Integration created in the doctoral degree program appeared to bind former students to the MO because of their desire to maintain relationships with colleagues and professors and give back to the community.

Research Question Ten. This question investigated Cognitive Map Development (CMD). The results from the questionnaire analysis did not indicate an association between attendance at MO and CMD The questions were designed by Lovitts (1996) to examine CMD prior to entry into doctoral programs, at the time of entry to those programs, and based on participation in orientations. These questions focused on early stages of CMD and institutional procedures.

The complexity of doctoral degree work that requires acquisition and synthesis of discipline knowledge, research design and practical aspects of implementation, and written and oral presentations of findings, far exceeds entry-level understanding of program requirements. I agree with Lovitts that students' CMD begins prior to entry to doctoral programs and is facilitated by dissemination of procedures and orientations but, to my perception, CMD continues throughout the entire degree experience. Furthermore, as reported by doctoral degree program Completers when asked about their experiences of attending MO after having been graduated, they reported returning for additional knowledge. For example, Completers discussed developing new skills with regard to asking appropriate and useful questions of MO presenters and commented on learning the most recent data on teaching young children to read through complementary learning-style instructional strategies. I believe these statements evidence continuing CMD.

Contrary to the implication that CMD bares no relationship to MO, personal interviews that I conducted challenge the accuracy of that finding. An In-progress student stated, "MO gives me the end product. It helps me by giving me purpose and a guide. You contemplate what you are going to do (your future area of research) before you present [at your Oral Defense]. MO guides me in my classes--I apply what I am learning in each course to my expectation of research for my own [future] MO. It gives you a scaffold. MO shows me how I will use that [research design, presentation skill, or statistical analysis and so forth] in my own [future] Oral Defense. MO acts as a reference. MO is the ultimate exemplar, an example of your end product." These student's observations reflect many of the attributes of CMD.

Lovitts (1996) proposed that students needed two types of cognitive maps to successfully navigate doctoral programs, Global CMD and Local CMD. She illustrated the difference between these two types of maps as being similar to state and local maps; one is large and provides information about highways and major cities and the other gives detailed information about streets. I believe interview evidence indicated MO strongly facilitated Global CMD and some Local CMD, though more Local CMD occurred during advisement and courses. In addition to Global and Local CMD, I suggest that MO provided a critical third component. Continuing with the state and local map simile, I propose that MO provided driving lessons too. In other words, practice sessions. Global and Local CMD in conjunction with rehearsal and performance activities at MO expand the doctoral degree program and I believe were strongly associated with the 87.5 percent completion rate.

I submit that three of the themes identified from the interview data, Preparation, Assistance, and Anxiety, were strongly associated with CMD. The primary purpose of MO, as indicated by the interview results, was Preparation for the Oral Defense. For most doctoral students, the OD was the last challenge they attempted before being awarded their degrees; therefore, students in the doctoral degree program were allowed to witness the last step of a complex process--often years in advance--before presenting to their own Dissertation Faculty Committees. Research participants stated that the opportunity to observe the final step of the doctoral degree program was excellent preparation for their degree program and provided a context within which doctoral requirements and activities posed meaningful relationships; this preparation was a critical facilitator in CMD.

The theme Assistance, the second most frequently voiced topic, was described by participants as important because they were able to obtain the support, help, and guidance from their adviser, other faculty, and fellow doctoral students who they met and interacted with during MO. It was apparent from the interview data, that doctoral degree program graduates and students experienced a system of support. Indeed, one Completer described that process as a "safety net" in which easy access was provided to information, knowledge, and advice. This type of assistance was another indicator of CMD. In other words, students were able to verify their progress and understanding of their work swiftly and straightforwardly, and if they discovered they were moving in an erroneous direction, they were able to reorient themselves. They also were able to discuss possible alternatives with those persons present at MO.

I included the Anxiety theme in CMD because Completers and In-progress students, about half of each group, described feeling anxious the first time they attended MO and then they continued to say that, after attending several MO, they felt confident about their ability to successfully present. This transformation of anxiety to confidence was another display of CMD.

Research Question Eleven. The attitudes of Completers, In-progress students, and Non-completers toward the MO were investigated in both the questionnaires and interviews. Questionnaire findings indicated on a variety of Likert type scales revealed that respondents found MO to be Very Valuable/Supportive/Informative/Helpful to Somewhat Valuable/Supportive/Informative/Helpful. In other words, in all questions related to attitudes about MO, participants were positively disposed toward MO.

Interview results were similarly affirmative. Interview analyses found that the most frequently used word was help with a word count of 70 and its antonym not helpful was used 3 times. Another example of this was supportive, which was used 23 times, and unsupportive, which occurred only 1 time--and by a student who had been advised by the Department chair not to become involved with the specific program strand responsible for MO.

Some participants expressed feelings of anxiety, nervousness, and intimidation. Examination of the context in which these words were utilized revealed that interviewees discussed nervousness when they first attended MO but that, after observing several more MO events, they described themselves as confident that they, too, would be successful when presenting. Their nervousness often seemed related to a fear of the unknown but participants acknowledged that, as they became increasingly knowledgeable about MO presentation formats, procedures, and statistical data, their anxieties were alleviated.

Conclusions

As a result of these findings, the process of MO apparently contributed substantially to students' completion of this particular doctoral program. Although, most interviewees equally praised their Thesis Seminar experiences as facilitating their successful progress through the final stages of the dissertation, almost all lauded MO for providing a cornerstone for the final stage of that process--their ability to: publicly present their research; cope with and responsibly address challenging questions concerning their procedures and findings with confidence and eloquence; anticipate statistical queries and develop plausible alternative responses; and demonstrate a knowledge of appropriate behaviors and profession demeanor during their final Oral Defense.

Considering an extensive review of decades of research concerning doctoral education and those volumes of studies indicated no similar programs, other than the Mock Viva in Great Britain (Hartley & Fox, 2004), in contrast with the virtual 50 percent non-completion rate reported by other--completers institutions, it appears logical that MO have contributed to increased retention by virtue of Social and Academic Integration. In addition, among the 12.5 percent of noncompleters almost all withdrew long before they could have attended MO. Not included in the original research questions was the frequently cited strong influence of one of the faculty who insisted on MO attendance of all students.

Many persons described a variety of horror stories reported to them by colleagues and friends who had been involved in doctoral programs without the MO experience. Each of those strongly advocated the adoption of the MO process at all doctoral institutions. In a field in which completion of doctoral programs often is reported as being 50 percent, this process demonstrated almost an 88 percent completion rate. To institutions concerned about providing academic support for their student population and ultimately gaining financial contributions from their alumni, I recommend that MO be added to their procedures as described herein and then examined carefully for the impact they either do, or not have on their doctoral student graduation rates. Unfortunately, too many doctoral students fail to become Completers--a statistic that, according to these findings, apparently can be altered by adoption of the MO process.

Discussion

This research has accomplished what none previously has. It has identified and described a process that, over a 15-year interval, successfully reduced the Non-completer ratio and increased the percentage of doctoral students who became Completers at an increase of 87.5 percent over the repeatedly publicized United States' graduation rate. This percentage gain is in sharp contrast to the 50 percent representative of the national completion rate across decades and disciplines. This is the first time that such success has been documented for doctoral students and it is incumbent upon other doctoral-level institutions to experiment with this apparently successful process.

Suggestions for Future Research

(1) Doctoral-program administrators should design a study to experiment with offering two possible paths to this graduate degree--one with an essentially elective-but-approved, and the other with a highly prescriptive, course of study. They then should identify the learning styles of applicants who choose each path and compare the rate of completion, and the attitudes toward and commitment to the program of those whose characteristics are complemented by, or dissonant from, the path they elected.

(2) Researchers who experiment with the establishment of MO should develop a system for determining the relative impact of this process versus the impact of Thesis Seminar on the graduation rate of doctoral students.

(3) A comparison should be made of the relative impact of various Thesis Seminar Procedures on the graduation rates of doctoral students. For example, interviewees described a wide variation in how Thesis Seminar was conducted by different professors in this same doctoral degree program. Some described a tightly controlled system in which students met weekly and, when needed by individuals and small groups, also met on weekends individually with the Seminar professor and/or students with similar needs.

Others described a mandated number of typed chapter pages that were required weekly by their professor. When students fell behind, additional meetings to their weekly seminars were required. When asked what would have happened if they had refused to spend the extra time, responses varied from, "The professor would not have continued mentoring me" to "I don't know anyone who ever dared to find out!"

(4) The same respondents who described the tight requirements of their Thesis Seminar mentor also negatively described other seminars in which students were not required to be present weekly or who met only when they persisted and secured an appointment with their mentor. Others in the same program described the reluctance of certain professors to assume mentoring responsibilities for anyone. These descriptions suggest stringent control of the seminar process by some professors and little control by others. Therefore, researchers should undertake a study to determine the extent to which strong versus loose control of time spent with the mentor and mandated weekly requirements may or may not contribute to students' completion of a doctoral dissertation.

(5) Of interest would be a study comparing the mentoring style of various doctoral professors and their doctoral students to determine whether any correlation exists between those and students' program completion.

As indicated earlier, the purposes of this study were to ascertain and describe the implications of attendance at Mock Orals (MO) and its effects on doctoral students' academic and social integration, cognitive maps, goals, and rates of completion in the doctoral degree program. Additionally, this research sought to identify: the processes and procedures specific to the MO; the descriptors specific to the MO procedures that would permit replication for future researchers; whether doctoral degree program graduates and students exemplified higher-than average completion rates; the percentage of doctoral degree program graduates and students who were completers versus non-completers; the highest degree that doctoral degree program completers, Non-completers, and In-progress students planned to obtain prior to entering the university; the degree of commitment engendeed by MO as revealed by Completers, Non-completers, and In-progress students; any influences that the MO exerted on the academic and professional goals of Completers, Non-completers, and In-progress students; the contribution made by the MO to the academic integration of Completers, Non-completers, and In-progress students; the influence contributed by MO to the social integration of Completers, Non-completers, and In-progress students; the influence contributed by MO to the cognitive-map development of Completers, Non-completers, and In-progress students; and the attitudes of Completers, Non-completers, and In-progress students.

References

Church, S. (2009). Beating the doctoral dropout rate: An integrated learning community of students, professors, and professionals creates success. Germany: VDM Verlag.

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Graduate Students in 2020: New Perspectives, Arlington, VA.

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Hartley, J. & Fox, C. (2004). Assessing the mock viva: The experiences of Britishdoctoral students. Studies in Higher Education, 29, 727-738.

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Richardson, V. (2003). The Ph.D. in education. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. Retrieved September 28, 2004 from http://www.carnegiefoundation. org/CID/essays/CID_educ_Richardson.pdf

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Sarah Elizabeth Church, Ed.D., Assistant professor and Teacher Education Unit coordinator, Hostos Community College, City University of New York, Bronx, NY.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Sarah E. Church at schurch@hostos.cuny.edu

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