Exploring Student Success in a Doctoral Program: The Power of Mentorship and Research Engagement

Joshua Gisemba Bagaka's, Irina Bransteter, Sarah Rispinto, Natale Badillo
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 10  •  2015  •  pp. 323-342
The study explored features of an educational doctoral program that enhances doctoral student success. Doctoral student success is defined broadly to include not only completion and retention rates, but also the ability of the program to produce effective scholars in the field. The study utilized a mixed-method approach, incorporating quantitative and qualitative data from both alumni and current doctoral students. A total of 113 students participated in the survey and another 20 students participated in two parallel focus group discussions. A factor analysis of the 31-item-survey identified six dimensions representing different aspects of the doctoral program with an internal consistency measure of reliability ranging from 0.76 to 0.97. Quantitative and qualitative findings converged in highlighting the importance of Program Support/Program Structure, Advisor Support/Faculty Mentorship, and Research Engagement/Formation of Scholars on doctoral students’ success. These features incorporate effective socialization activities within the program. The study recommends that doctoral programs incorporate research engagement and effective mentorship activities into the program’s structure for sustainable scholarship.
mentorship, doctoral programs, research engagement, doctoral student success, formation of scholars, retention rates
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