Degree Name

EdD (Doctor of Education)


Educational Leadership

Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Bethany Flora

Committee Members

Pamela Scott, Hal Knight, Susan Epps


This phenomenological research study explored the dissertation experiences of individuals working as faculty members across disciplines at regionally accredited four year universities. Research questions utilized the constructs of social development theory to explore dissertation experiences from an individual, relational and structural perspective. Prior scholars have used social development theory as a framework to explore the individualities of the student, the relationship with faculty advisors and mentors, and the resources provided by the department and institution when evaluating the dissertation process (Liechty, Liao, & Schull, 2009).

A purposeful, criterion sampling strategy and maximum variation sampling were employed to select a wide range of academic disciplines, classified in Biglan’s Augmented Model (Drees, 1982). The constant comparative method was used in data analysis of transcribed interviews with findings organized into the most prevalent themes.

The individual experiences of dissertation success included three prevalent themes: career advancement opportunities and the development of extensive research agendas were described as motivators for participants to successfully complete the dissertation. Additionally, family and peer influence and prior knowledge were attributed as individual factors to success. Five themes were identified regarding the relational factors leading to dissertation success: (1) dissertation chair and committee, (2) cohort associates, (3) family members, (4) technological communication, and (5) guidance, feedback, and preparation. Finally, three themes related to the structural factors leading to dissertation success were identified: (1) financial aid, (2) streamlined processes and (3) institutional resources. Recommendations for future research include studies to better understand faculty experiences with job placement in academia, faculty experiences as a dissertation chair, and faculty views regarding dissertation attrition and retention.

Document Type

Dissertation - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.