The Correlation between Self-Efficacy and Time to Degree Completion of Educational Leadership Doctoral Students

Juliann S McBrayer, Teri Denlea Melton, Daniel W Calhoun, Matthew Dunbar, Steven Tolman
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 13  •  2018  •  pp. 413-439

This study examined an Ed.D. program redesign to address time to degree completion. The aim was to emphasize the need to improve students’ academic writing and embody a scholarly practitioner approach to research.

Doctoral programs have the highest attrition of graduate programs, with almost half of the students taking six to seven years to complete.

An ex-post-facto correlational research design examined self-efficacy and educational leadership doctoral students perceived versus actual program progression. This was statistically determined through Pearson’s correlation coefficients and a t-test analysis.

This study provides other doctoral programs who are struggling with time to degree completion a model to consider as they contemplate a program redesign.

Ed.D. students in the 2014 and 2015 cohorts reported high self-efficacy (3.62 and 3.57 respectively, out of 4.00). There was a statistically significant difference in the number of defenses completed per semester based on the program redesign.

Ed.D. programs should consider using a scholarly practitioner approach. This focus may lead to faster rates of degree completion and better prepare students to solve problems of practice in their practitioner setting.

While the results are promising as to expediting time to degree completion, like most doctoral programs it does not seem to impact overall completion rates of the program as a whole, thus, warranting further research.

Expediting time-to-completion enables students to graduate sooner. This will yield cost savings to the student, free up faculty resources, and most importantly prepare students to sooner serve as scholarly practitioners.

Future research should continue to examine time to degree completion, as well as students’ lived experiences and examine how those shape doctoral students’ efforts and abilities in their Ed.D. work from start to program completion.

degree completion, educational leadership, leadership preparation, problem of practice, scholarly practitioners
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