WHITLOWE R. GREEN COLLEGE OF EDUCATION
Dissertation Proposal Announcement
ABSTRACT
A MIXED-METHOD STUDY EXPLORING THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN NONCOGNITIVE FACTORS AND PERSISTENCE OF FEMALE DOCTORAL STUDENTS AT
AN HBCU IN TEXAS
(Fall, 2015)
LaToya S. Mills, B.S.W., Our Lady of the Lake University, 2004
M.S.W., Our Lady of the Lake University, 2005
Chair of Advisory Committee: Lucian Yates, III, Ph.D.
Education is the cornerstone of American society. Historically, educational attainment
had been reserved for the wealthy citizens and only available in limited regions. However, as the
need for education increased, more higher education institutions surfaced providing access to a
broad range of students that included veterans, women, and blacks (Schofer & Meyer, 2005).
Over the past twenty years, researchers have been working to understand access and persistence
in higher education (National Institute for Education Statistics, 2015). Current research has
examined factors that affect access and persistent for undergraduates in regards to cognitive
(high school GPA, rigor of high school) and non-cognitive factors (socioeconomic status,
parent’s education status, and type of college attending). This research has moved the
undergraduate world into change.
As more students began completing undergraduate degrees, due to the impact of
persistence research, the stakes increased for jobs and more education has been required. People
are now pursuing graduate education for various reasons such as intellectual growth, love for
research, more job opportunities, and the ability to change careers (Huffington Post, 2013).
While the research addresses access and persistence for the undergraduate, we must note, that it
is equally important to address the graduation rates from all levels of higher education.
The doctoral degree is highly coveted, however, there is a statistic, in higher education,
that seems to catapult in silence. It is the fact that, doctoral students are not graduating in
significant numbers. Pontius and Harper (2006) emphasized that although graduate and
professional students were almost 14% of all students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities
in 2001 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2011), institutions are still, solely focusing on undergraduates, and
they lack engagement and the development of healthy initiatives for the successful matriculation
of the doctoral studentThis results in a doctoral attrition rate of a little over 50% (Ampaw &
Jaeger, 2011; Council of Graduate School, 2008; Gardner, 2009).
The purpose of this mixed–method causal comparative study is to examine doctoral
persistence among female ABD students and female graduates throughout four doctoral
programs at an HBCU in the state of Texas. Specifically, the researcheer will explore five
identified factors that potentially lead to persistence and completion of the dissertation phase.
The non-cognitive factors to be explored are self-efficacy (social cognitive theory), locus of
control (extrinsic vs. intrinsic motivation), resiliency, grit, and presence of a healthy support
system. Through the lens of these exploratory factors, it is the hope that the researcher will
identify a valuable conceptual framework for didactic implementation into doctoral programs
throughout the country. This non-cognitive conceptual framework for persistence can be applied
(1) during the admissions and selection process of potential doctoral students or (2) as
instuctional elements for current ABD students.The key questions that will guide this exploratory
inquiry on doctoral student attrition and the exploratory factors that lead to doctoral student
persistence are:
RQ1. What is the difference bewteen grit scores in female doctoral students who have
completed their doctoral degree and those who are ABD?
RQ2. What is the difference bewteen mean resiliency scores in female doctoral students
who have completed their doctoral degree and those who are ABD?
RQ3. What is the difference bewteen the mean locus of control scores in female doctoral
students who have completed their doctoral degree and those who are ABD?
RQ4. What is the difference bewteen mean self-efficacy scores in female doctoral
students who have completed their doctoral degree and those who are ABD?
RQ5. Is there a difference between the presence of a healthy support system in female
doctoral students who have completed their doctoral degree and those who are ABD?
Date: 12/08/2015
Department: Educational Leadership and Counseling
Time: __11:00 AM_____________
Location/Room: _Delco 220
Dissertation Chair: Lucian Yates, III, Ph.D._
Dissertation Committee Members: Dr. Pamela Barber-Freeman
Dr. Samuel Sampson
Dr. William H. Parker
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WHITLOWE R. GREEN COLLEGE OF EDUCATION Dissertation Proposal Announcement