The Doctoral Journey: A Case Study of One Student's Experience
AuthorGodwin, Carol Ann
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AbstractThe purpose of this qualitative study was to gain an in-depth understanding of one doctoral student’s experience in working toward a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph. D.) with emphasis on the process rather than results. The study grew out of the experience of one doctoral student who was unable to complete a quantitative study on two occasions over a 12-year period. Investigation of this phenomenon provided insights about why events unfolded as they did and provided a possible understanding of similar cases. An intrinsic case study design allowed an in-depth vision of the case employing analytic procedures of detailed explanations, taking into account the context and setting. The paradigm assumption of an interpretive/critical perspective allowed the researcher to make sense of the case events and move on to analyze their place in the doctoral experience. Data analysis was employed through completing interviews, repeated readings of interviews with memo notations, a four step reflectivity inquiry, a literature review of the doctoral process, and an analysis of student paper surveys from the failed quantitative study. The findings from the research identified six noteworthy elements influencing this doctoral experience: study design, active parental consent, change in advisor and committee, collection design, mentoring, and circumstances. Implications from the case study suggest doctoral student attrition is a significant issue; the experiences of this doctoral student were not uncommon; and students have options to avoid some pitfalls involved in the process.