Support Systems, Isolation, and Intended Persistence In Doctoral Education
This study investigated the effects of formal academic support systems and stage of doctoral study on persistence, satisfaction, and knowledge of resources, expectations, and customs in doctoral education. Part-time and full-time doctoral students (N=141) enrolled in four public institutions in a southeastern state during the spring and summer semesters of 2007 were surveyed. An online questionnaire, adapted from the 1999 Survey on Doctoral Education (Golde & Dore, 2001), was used to survey participants. Exploratory factor analysis and reliability analysis were performed to define the variables. A MANOVA was performed to determine if any differences existed between formal academic support system membership and stages of doctoral study on student knowledge of customary field practices and student understanding of program expectations. There were no statistically significant differences according to MANOVA. However, there were statistically significant correlations found in student satisfaction with the advisor relationship and advisor practices. Previous literature suggestions for effective doctoral education practices are supported in the findings of this study. Approximately 94% of participants self-reported intent to persist. The majority of the participants also indicated belonging to at least one support system within the doctoral program. Doctoral programs may consider offering several forms of support to improve doctoral student satisfaction and knowledge of resources while increasing persistence. Doctoral programs also should give close attention to the relationship between the advisor and the student.