Dallas Campus (Online)
Date of Award
Doctor of Education
Committee Chair or Primary Advisor
Second Committee Member or Secondary Advisor
Third Committee Member or Committee Reader
Attrition in doctoral programs has been a problem of practice for countless years. With the surge of online degree programs and the high attrition rates in online doctoral programs, factors that could reduce attrition and increase retention are rising in importance. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine social support factors that influence persistence to completion rates in online doctoral studies. Furthermore, this study was focused on obtaining student perceptions of family, the academic community, and peer support influencing persistence during the dissertation stage. Data were collected from participants using survey questionnaires and semistructured interviews. The sample population consisted of 12 former students from a small private university who had completed their dissertation and online doctoral degree between 2018 and 2020. The findings revealed that these three social support groups, family, the academic community, and peer, provided important motivational support in the form of knowledgeable guidance, relationships/connections, and emotional and time support. Families primarily provided needed emotional and time support. The academic community, especially dissertation chairs, provided desired knowledgeable guidance during the dissertation process. Peers, in the form of cohorts, provided critical encouragement and emotional support. Existing relationships from which participants relied on for support included family members, coworkers, and friends, while new connections and bonds with cohorts and dissertation chairs played a vital role in influencing completion. In addition, the findings also revealed that internal motivation and self-determination played a significant role in persistence to completion. Keywords: social support, attrition, persistence, academic community, dissertation, online doctorate degree, student integration
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Gorham, Eliza, "Perceptions of Social Support Impacting Persistence of Online Doctoral Students" (2021). Digital Commons @ ACU, Electronic Theses and Dissertations. Paper 349.