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Preparing for dissertation writing: doctoral education students’ perceptions

Katia Ciampa (Center for Education, Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA)
Zora Wolfe (Center for Education, Widener University, Chester, Pennsylvania, USA)

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

ISSN: 2398-4686

Article publication date: 4 June 2019

Issue publication date: 25 June 2019

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to investigate doctoral students’ perceptions of and satisfaction with their doctor of education program, specifically related to dissertation writing preparation. The results offer a complex picture that has implications for the design of doctoral education programs that aim to help students prepare for culminating academic writing products such as dissertations.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative data, by means of an anonymous online survey with open-ended questions, were used to ascertain 115 doctoral students’ writing experiences in a doctoral program at one university in the USA.

Findings

The findings of this study suggest the importance of intrapersonal factors, specifically the ability to engage in self-directed learning; interpersonal factors, such as peer and faculty support; and institutional factors, namely, faculty’s writing-based pedagogical practices, in supporting doctoral students’ academic writing.

Practical implications

This study suggests in addition to selecting and nurturing students’ ability to engage in self-directed learning, there are a number of specific strategies and practices doctoral faculty can engage in and use to prepare students for successful dissertation writing.

Originality/value

This study provides the perspective of former and existing doctoral students to illuminate the needs they perceive as they engage in dissertation writing. The study provides practical strategies based on common themes in student responses.

Keywords

Citation

Ciampa, K. and Wolfe, Z. (2019), "Preparing for dissertation writing: doctoral education students’ perceptions", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 86-108. https://doi.org/10.1108/SGPE-03-2019-0039

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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