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Doctoral Program Attrition Rates Challenges and Opportunities for Change Becky Milam EP 525 Final Project Presentation Summer 2010.

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Presentation on theme: "Doctoral Program Attrition Rates Challenges and Opportunities for Change Becky Milam EP 525 Final Project Presentation Summer 2010."— Presentation transcript:

1 Doctoral Program Attrition Rates Challenges and Opportunities for Change Becky Milam EP 525 Final Project Presentation Summer 2010

2 The Challenge Studies show that half of all students who begin a doctoral program do not finish. Why? 2

3 Questions The purpose of my project was to explore answers to the following questions: 1.What are the attrition rates for doctoral students; specifically those who have completed all-but-the- dissertation (ABDs)? 2.Why is the attrition rate so high? 3.What about degree completion for women? Are there different concerns? 4.What changes might make a difference and help students complete their degrees in a timely manner? 3

4 Why is the attrition rate so high? Financial stresses Time management challenges Advisor/committee selection and relationships Research skill deficits Isolation from the university community Personal issues Commitment to timely degree completion 4

5 What about degree completion for women? Are there different concerns? Rapidly rising number of doctorates earned by women 1975 - 20% awarded to women 1990 - 35% awarded to women 2000 - 40% awarded to women Length of time required has increased 1975 – 8.7 years for men and women 2000 – 10.3 years for men and women 5

6 Early Finishers vrs Late Finishers Early finishers – under 4.25 years – Strong commitment to finish in a timely manner – Helpful advisor/committee – Help/support from other students – Help/ support from staff – Productive prior research experience – Productive prior professional experience – Prior, relevant, useful coursework Late finishers – 6.75 years and more – Above factors not as high 6

7 What changes might make a difference and help students complete their degrees in a timely manner? Stronger, more intentional community New apprenticeship models where students work with several faculty member and peers More viable delivery methods for part-time students More purposeful curriculum design Improved advising and mentoring relationships Stress management programs 7

8 References Golde, C. M. (2005, November/December). The Role of the Department and Discipline in Doctoral Student Attrition: Lessons from Four Departments. The Journal of Higher Education, 76(6), 669-700. Green, K. E., & Kluever, R. C. (1997, March). The Dissertation Barriers Scale. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association. MacLeod, D. (2005, January 11). Study reveals low PHD completion rates. The Guardian News and Media. Maher, M. A., Ford, M. E., & Thompson, C. M. (2004, Spring). Degree Progress of Women Doctoral Students: Factors that Constrain, Facilitate, and Differentiate. The Review of Higher Education, 27(3), 385-408. doi:10.1353/.2004.0003 Shulman, L. S. (2010). Doctoral Education Isnt a Marathon; The salvation may mean embracing the professional schools. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 56(30). Smith, R. L., Maroney, K., Nelson, K. W., Label, A., & Abel, H. S. (2006, Spring). Doctoral Programs: Changing High Rates of Attrition. Journal of Humanistic Counseling, Education and Development, 45(1). Walker, G. E., Golde, C. M., Jones, L., Bueschel, A. C., & Hutchings, P. (2008). The formation of scholars: Rethinking doctoral education for the twenty-first century. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 8


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