Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Overview of the Dissertation Process within the Framework of Flow Theory: A Qualitative Study

Academic journal article Kuram ve Uygulamada Egitim Bilimleri

Overview of the Dissertation Process within the Framework of Flow Theory: A Qualitative Study

Article excerpt

Time is a silent saw.

Emmanuel Kant

The purpose of doctoral training, located at the center of academic practices, is to allow students to conduct independent studies, to interpret scientific phenomena from a wide and deep perspective and to gain the ability to determine the steps needed to reach a new synthesis (Stubb, Pyhältö, & Lonka, 2011). Doctoral education consists of the following basic processes: (i) course work, (ii) advisor assignment, (iii) proficiency exam, (iv) dissertation proposal, (v) evaluation of the dissertation by the dissertation monitoring committee and (vi) dissertation defense. Katz (1997) stated that strategies should be identified for the effective and productive completion of the doctoral process, which consists of several steps. He also added that for PhD education to be successful, students must have various skills, such as academic writing, research, practice, time management, and planning. Doctoral education is a process that requires not only the students but also the faculty and advisors to engage in planning. The literature's recommendations for the successful completion of the process include limiting the number of students under the responsibility of the advisor (Noble, 1994), providing economic support to students (Bowen & Rudenst, 1992), organizing workshops for the academic development of students (Atwell, 1996) and determining a common time for the selection of research topics (Vekkaila, Pyhältö, & Lonka, 2013).

As seen from the statements above, various stakeholders have responsibilities for the implementation of the doctoral dissertation process. Doctoral students, who prove themselves in terms of academic achievement, are faced with various challenges in the dissertation process; these challenges arise from their own work strategies or from other stakeholders (Vekkaila et al., 2013). A review of the related literature found that students are constantly in troublesome situations during their doctoral education (Hyun, Quinn, Madon, & Lustig, 2006), have a high rate of attrition (Gardner, 2007; Golde, 2005), leave the doctoral track as a result of encountering negative experiences (Chiang, 2003) or halt their education (Stubb et al., 2011). Wright (2003) stated that in the dissertation process, students encounter various problems, such as difficulties with their advisors and colleagues, the inability to balance academic life and personal life and financial difficulties in addition to the academic challenges that they face. The motivation and focus levels of doctoral students, who face all these challenges, should be high in order to complete the dissertation process (Vekkaila et al., 2013). Csikszentmihalyi (1990) stated that individuals can direct their full energy toward a target if they physically and mentally force their own limits to achieve challenging targets and consciously focus their attention on the defined target. Individuals who have such an experience will have a high level of motivation and flow experience.

Flow Theory

Flow theory addresses the process of healthy individuals' engagement in activities that may improve their cognitive skills. It includes feeling a sense of control, having a high level of concentration on the work performed, enjoying cognitive pleasure, and having harmony between the skills and the performed tasks (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). Csikszentmihalyi argues that it is possible for an individual to achieve happiness by controlling his inner life. He stated that an individual can maintain control of his inner life and can live the most enjoyable moments in his life by directing his attention to realistic goals and matching his skills with the challenges he encounters. In such a case, an individual who completely focuses on his work will live the flow experience and will recognize that he has control over the actions that he performs. An individual who recognizes that he has control over the achievement of his goal is aware of the challenges that he will encounter and his existing capabilities (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997). …

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