Theses and Dissertations

Author

James Boulder

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University

Advisor

Adams, James

Committee Member

Elder, Anastasia

Committee Member

Yu, Chien

Committee Member

Wyatt, John

Date of Degree

8-1-2010

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Abstract

The study examined doctoral students‟ perceptions of the doctoral support and services offered by Mississippi State University (MSU). The research design used was descriptive, non-experimental design. Validity of the online survey instrument was established by a panel of experts. Internal consistency and reliability was determined using factor analysis, Cronbach‟s alpha, and test/retest reliability which revealed that the instrument was consistent and reliable. Participants included 172 doctoral students in the seven colleges which offer doctoral programs and 172 doctoral alumni who had graduated within the last 5 years. Data was collected in fall 2009. Responding participants equaled 142 (41% return rate). The results of this study revealed that both current and alumni doctoral students had a moderately positive perception of the doctoral support and services offered by Mississippi State University. The doctoral program of study was considered to be effective and suitable; support and services were considered sufficient and appropriate; doctoral supervision was considered to be sufficient and appropriate by participants. The study showed that doctoral student‟s utilization of external sources of support and services was low, but was perceived as beneficial. The financial support provided was adequate to complete their degrees. Doctoral students funded their degrees primarily through employment. Participants considered that the perceived benefits of obtaining a doctoral degree outweighed the financial cost of its completion. Multiple regression analyses revealed that predictor variables of academic status, race, and college had significant effects on doctoral student‟s perceptions. Alumni had a significantly higher perception of the doctoral support and services than current doctoral students. Speculation as to possible causes of the difference included the psychological phenomenon of memory bias. In addition, Black/African American doctoral students provided a significantly less positive endorsement of doctoral supervision than their white counterparts. Furthermore, doctoral students from the College of Education provided a significantly less positive endorsement of doctoral support and services. This sentiment was supported by the narrative responses. Avenues of future research and recommendation for the university are discussed and presented.The study showed that doctoral student‟s utilization of external sources of support and services was low, but was perceived as beneficial. The financial support provided was adequate to complete their degrees. Doctoral students funded their degrees primarily through employment. Participants considered that the perceived benefits of obtaining a doctoral degree outweighed the financial cost of its completion. Multiple regression analyses revealed that predictor variables of academic status, race, and college had significant effects on doctoral student‟s perceptions. Alumni had a significantly higher perception of the doctoral support and services than current doctoral students. Speculation as to possible causes of the difference included the psychological phenomenon of memory bias. In addition, Black/African American doctoral students provided a significantly less positive endorsement of doctoral supervision than their white counterparts. Furthermore, doctoral students from the College of Education provided a significantly less positive endorsement of doctoral support and services. This sentiment was supported by the narrative responses. Avenues of future research and recommendation for the university are discussed and presented.

URI

https://hdl.handle.net/11668/15339

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