Were there people who made a difference in your pursuit regarding staying in the program or leaving and if so who?


By Erika Little

Discussion Board Module 4-Doctoral Persistence


Research Question: Why is the persistence for doctoral students greater for those who participate in online programs?

I intend to interview first year doctoral students and graduating doctoral students to get the varying perspectives on the answers to these questions. First year students may view persistence having general obstacles like tuition affordability and course work whereas graduating students have a seasoned perspective and may have specific data around persistence and obstacles for students. I believe both pools of interviews will yield valuable data.

Five Interview Questions:

Do you believe online doctoral programs allow greater flexibility for students?

Do you think online doctoral programs are [more difficult] or [less difficult] for student persistence?

Is student persistence and academic rigor mutually exclusive?

Do you agree that doctoral persistence is a result of many variables?

Do you agree that online programs compared to face to face programs mitigate many persistence obstacles for students?


The research question is “Why is the persistence of doctoral students greater for those who participate in online programs?” The purpose of this research question is to focus the research and analysis of whether persistence of doctoral students is related to how students take their courses. Online courses offer a great deal of flexibility for students, whereas face to face courses have an advantage of dialogue and the formation of interpersonal relationships between students. Each delivery format has its pros and cons, but the purpose of the research question is to evaluate the experience of doctoral students to see what obstacles existed for them and if those obstacles were associated with their course delivery format. For example, if students cite extracurricular responsibilities as an obstacle, having face to face courses may have impacted their schedule if they work or have a family.

The data retrieved for this research analysis will be retrieved through a series of interviews with first year doctoral students and doctoral students who have recently graduated, with both populations having face to face or online delivery formats. The interview questions posed are purposed with getting the doctoral students to evaluate their own person experience and personal objectives as a student. This information creates a pool of obstacles that the research can report on as what negatively impacts doctoral persistence. It is valuable information despite it having a subjective origin. The personal experience of the doctoral students allows for the research to have more color for the audience reviewing the completed analysis.

In conclusion, the purpose of the research is to evaluate whether online doctoral degree programs have greater persistence because of the perspective that online academics is an easier balance for students. The interviews will be a research tool that allows for a subjective pool of experiences to build as a repository of themes and obstacles associated with the doctoral student experience. It will be helpful to hear directly from students, both new and those who have completed a doctoral program, the nature of the obstacles which were evaluated by them when they were determining whether they were able to continue in their program.


By Darin Dillow 

Doctoral Persistence Questions – Forum 4

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Completing a doctorate degree is a goal that many people have throughout their lifetime.  It takes commitment, determination, and a grit along the way.  However, many of these people start the journey but never complete it because they lack doctoral persistence.  The main question that is asked is, how do people who have children, live active lifestyles, and work a full-time job make it to completion?  People who stay in the programs are rewarded with many benefits, but it takes long hours to reach the finish line.  What is the secret for these people and what do they attribute to their success?  Many times, it is their support system, faculty, or even a university mentor or advisor that helps them along the way.  Why do they choose to go through this type of process?  The answer is simple, they are determined, focused, and have doctoral persistence.  The research question that we will answer is not dealing with those who stay and finish, but rather those who start and never complete.  Why do these students quit the process before reaching the finish line?

I personally plan to interview at least two people.  The first is Shawn Stasko.  Dr. Stasko obtained his Ph.D. in Sports Medicine through the University of Kentucky.  His research was built around the study of Chemo Therapy Patients and the muscle endurance capacities.  He was successful in his research and has now started his own company dealing with this issue and muscle loss in the athletic arena’s.  His research took nearly two years and had many ups and downs, so he is very familiar with doctoral persistence.  The other person that I will be interviewing will be Dr. Scott Black.  Dr. Black earned his M.D. in Sports Medicine and is a practicing physician with the University of Kentucky.  He currently is lead physician for the Physician’s Assistant program and serves as the main sports medicine doctor for University of Kentucky’s athletic programs.  He has been in the field for nearly twenty-five years and teaches as a professor at the University. He will be able to offer valuable insights on what it takes to finish the program and how doctoral persistence can be applied.   

Interview Questions

1. Please tell me, in your own words, what was your main reason for obtaining a doctorate degree?

2. What were three of the largest distractions while pursuing this goal?

3. Please explain, who did you lean on for support during this journey?

4. What did you find was the most helpful from a University Support system?

5. Were there people who made a difference in your pursuit regarding staying in the program or leaving and if so who?

I believe in interviewing these two gentlemen, I will be able to extract very specific reasons why they started the journey of a doctorate degree and why they were able to finish.  I also believe that doctoral persistence can mean very different things to each of us so to finish a complete research project, many more subjects would need to be interviewed.

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