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Jump to first page A STUDY OF Ph.D. COMPLETION AT DUKE UNIVERSITY Lewis M. Siegel Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, Duke University DUKE UNIVERSITY.

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Presentation on theme: "Jump to first page A STUDY OF Ph.D. COMPLETION AT DUKE UNIVERSITY Lewis M. Siegel Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, Duke University DUKE UNIVERSITY."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jump to first page A STUDY OF Ph.D. COMPLETION AT DUKE UNIVERSITY Lewis M. Siegel Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School, Duke University DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

2 Jump to first page THE DATA TO BE PRESENTED Ph.D. cohorts from Fall 1991 through Fall 1995 were examined for each Duke degree granting program for u % Completion (as of Fall 2004) u Patterns of withdrawal from Ph.D. program u Median Time to Degree u Effect of Variables such as GRE scores, GPA, Race, Gender, and Merit Fellowship selection u Following Some Interventions, Attrition Rates Through 5 th Year Compared for and Cohorts DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

3 Jump to first page Ph.D. COMPLETION RATES MIXED IN HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES; TIME TO DEGREE GENERALLY HIGH, AND LATE ATTRITION A PROBLEM IN SEVERAL LARGE DEPARTMENTS DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

4 Jump to first page Ph.D. COMPLETION RATES HIGH AND ATTRITION EARLY IN MOST BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; BIOLOGICAL ANTHROPOLOGY IS AN EXCEPTION DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

5 Jump to first page Ph.D. COMPLETION RATES IN PHYSICAL SCIENCES AND ENGINEERING MIXED, BUT TIME TO DEGREE IS LOW AND WITHDRAWAL GENERALLY EARLY DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

6 Jump to first page GENERAL FINDINGS n Completion Rates are highest in the Biological Sciences (74%) and similar in the Humanities, Social Sciences, Physical Sciences, and Engineering (60-62%). n Both the Median Time to Degree and Time to Withdrawal are greatest in the Humanities (6.7 and 2.7 years, respectively) and Social Sciences (6.0 and 2.7 years) and shortest in the Physical Sciences and Engineering (about 5.0 and 2.1 years). n In individual programs, there is little correlation between Completion rate, Time to Degree, or Time to Withdrawal. n It is generally felt that late withdrawal from a Ph.D. program (e.g., after 3 or 4 years) is more serious than early withdrawal (e.g., in year 1 or 2). DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

7 Jump to first page COMPLETION RATES FOR DIFFERENT GROUPS n High GRE (V and Q) and high GPAs correlate well with completion only in the Humanities. n Dukes African-American Ph.D. students complete the degree at higher rates than the general popula-tion in all fields except the Physical Sciences and Engineering (where the numbers are very low). n There are striking differences in gender completion rates in the Humanities and Biological Sciences (more male than female), but the effect is opposite in the Social Sciences (more female than male). Overall, there is little net effect of gender. n Duke faculty can pick students who are more likely to complete than the general population based on reading applications. In nearly all fields, J.B.Duke fellowship awardees complete more than others with similar high GRE scores and GPAs.

8 Jump to first page EFFECT OF GPA/GRE SCORES, J.B. DUKE FELLOWSHIP SELECTION, RACE, AND GENDER ON Ph.D. COMPLETION RATES ( Cohorts ) DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

9 Jump to first page AFRICAN-AMERICAN Ph.D. COMPLETION AND TIMES TO DEGREE OR WITHDRAWAL ( Cohorts) DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

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12 Jump to first page Ph.D. COMPLETION RATES AND WITHDRAWAL PATTERNS: Attrition High and Often Late in Many Humanities and Social Science Departments DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

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17 Jump to first page Ph.D. COMPLETION RATES AND WITHDRAWAL PATTERNS: Biological Science Attrition Low and Generally Early; Biological Anthropology an Exception DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

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20 Jump to first page Ph.D. COMPLETION RATES AND WITHDRAWAL PATTERNS: Physical Sciences and Engineering Attrition Generally by Year 3; Computer Sci an Exception DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

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25 Jump to first page INTERVENTIONS TO IMPROVE Ph.D. COMPLETION RATE AT DUKE AFTER 1995: STUDENT FUNDING n Institute 5-6 year funding guarantee in all A&S units; generally support to degree in sciences n Departments given budgets based on graduate education parameters, not service needs n 3-year budgets to deal with variations in yield n Reduction in student teaching loads; more fellowship years n Competitive summer research support introduced n Funded capstone teaching fellowships at dissertation stage DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

26 Jump to first page INTERVENTIONS TO IMPROVE Ph.D. COMPLETION RATE AT DUKE AFTER 1995: BETTER INFORMED SELECTION n Reduce emphasis on GRE scores and GPAs – data show poor correlation with completion as Duke uses them n Emphasize demonstrated research experience n Transparency: Put Duke data on placement, time to degree, completion rates in each program – student should know what (s)he is getting into n Interview students before admitting them – campus visits and/or by telephone with international students n Exchange information to learn fit rather than just sell program DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

27 Jump to first page INTERVENTIONS TO IMPROVE Ph.D. COMPLETION RATE AT DUKE AFTER 1995: IMPROVED PROGRAMS n Require structured teaching experiences for graduate TAs where career-appropriate n Graduate school workshops in pedagogy and uses of instructional technology; expanded PFF program; Pathways to the Professoriate n Responsible conduct of research training extended to all Ph.D. students in all disciplines n Field-specific symposia to introduce career options to Ph.D. students n Enhanced student services; strong investment in subsidizing child care for graduate students n Best Practices charter for faculty, students, Grad School DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

28 Jump to first page EFFECT OF INTERVENTIONS ON COMPLETION – AN EXPERIMENT THAT HAS NO CONTROLS n Compare attrition in first 5 years for Fall vs. Fall cohorts n Significant reduction in attrition in disciplines where funding change is greatest: Humanities 5-year attrition reduced from 25% to 18%. Effect strongest in Language instruction departments where reduction in required service greatest. n Results clouded by housecleaning in certain departments with new leadership (History, Sociology) n Virtually no overall effect on Biological Sciences, where attrition already lowest and funding with choice already in place n Reduced attrition in the most TA-dependent Physical Science departments (Chemistry, Math) n Attrition worsens in tub on own bottom units (Engineering, Environment) that resist following Graduate Schools new budgeting system DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

29 Jump to first page INTERVENTION: EFFECT ON EARLY ATTRITION IN DUKE GRADUATE SCHOOL Ph.D. PROGRAMS n For the Graduate School as a whole, there is no effect DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

30 Jump to first page YEAR 1-5 ATTRITION AFTER INTERVENTION: Significant improvement in Humanities, particularly in highly T.A.-dependent Language & Literature departments DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

31 Jump to first page YEAR 1-5 ATTRITION AFTER INTERVENTION: Mixed results in Social Sciences: Stable units generally improve, but some problem units with large populations start to clean house. DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

32 Jump to first page YEAR 1-5 ATTRITION AFTER INTERVENTION: Little overall change in Biological Sciences, where full funding model and many Best Practices already were in place Some improvement in highly T.A.-dependent units DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

33 Jump to first page YEAR 1-5 ATTRITION AFTER INTERVENTION: Highly T.A.-dependent Physical Science depts generally improve ; Tub on own bottom depts in Engineering, EOS get worse DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

34 Jump to first page ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSIONS HELD TO DESIGN AND SHARE BEST PRACTICES ACROSS DISCIPLINES n Graduate School distributes published material on issues concerning Ph.D. attrition; invites guest speakers; summarizes current thinking about factors that might increase attrition n Graduate School sends questions to departments: Explain and justfy your processes for selection, recruitment, orientation, integration, examination, mentoring, and teacher training of graduate students in the context of improving your Ph.D. completion rate n Dean links response to questions to the annual budget meetings with departments– gets their attention n Graduate School engages in dialogue with individual DGSs and student representatives to refine best practice ideas, then distributes them as basis for discussions at dinners for DGSs n Graduate School publishes report on best practices to promote sharing of ideas across disciplines----Now I understand why we have a Graduate School! DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

35 Jump to first page INTERVENTIONS TO IMPROVE Ph.D. COMPLETION RATE AT DUKE AFTER ROUNDTABLE INPUTS n Comprehensive orientation programs by both school and department – introduce program faculty, history and issues in field, possible career options, opportunities to improve skills, introduction to field methodologies n Distribute and discuss clear program guidelines and expectations, with milestone achievement markers n Best Practices principles to be discussed in departments by faculty and students together n Make sure there is an interested first year advisor or multiple advisors, often graduate buddy assigned n Strongly encourage freedom of mentor choice; rotations if possible – first year funding free of mentor if possible DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

36 Jump to first page INTERVENTIONS TO IMPROVE Ph.D. COMPLETION RATE AT DUKE AFTER ROUNDTABLE INPUTS n Encourage first or second year research projects to be completed as a group collaborative effort n Regularly scheduled seminar and faculty/student luncheon series which include faculty and advanced students n Clarify faculty expectations on qualifying and preliminary examinations; hold all students to same standard n Ensure that dissertation prospectus meeting/exam is held no later than six months after prelim. exam n Graduate School to publicize examples of excellence in mentoring; give annual faculty mentor awards n Require bi- or annual reports to DGS and committee on students progress; no student gets lost n DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL

37 Jump to first page INCREASING Ph.D. COMPLETION---A WORK IN PROGRESS n It will probably never be possible to select students who are perfectly suited for graduate study in a particular unit or school – ETS trying to measure non-cognitive factors n Better GRE exams may help – Subject tests a largely unused resource for selection of students n Axiom: transparency can only help matters – Is the long road to a Ph.D. right for you? Is this the right fit? n What is an acceptable level of attrition, given the large financial investment the university usually makes in each new Ph.D. matriculant? n Given the long time it takes to obtain a Ph.D., how we will know that any intervention we undertake is actually having an effect? n DUKE UNIVERSITY GRADUATE SCHOOL


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