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Students' persistence in the University of Nebraska -Lincoln Distributed Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership in Higher Education: A mixed methods study

Nataliya V Ivankova, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this mixed methods sequential explanatory study was to understand what impacted students' persistence in the in the Distributed Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership in Higher Education offered by the University Nebraska - Lincoln. In the first, quantitative phase of the study, the research questions focused on identifying the predictive power of ten composite variables, representing selected internal and external factors to students' persistence in the program. The data were collected via a web-based survey (N = 278), using a self-developed instrument. The response rate was 74.5%. First, the participants' answers to separate items on the survey scales were analyzed using descriptive statistics. A discriminant function analysis identified five variables best predicting the group membership: program, online learning environment, student support services, faculty, and self-motivation. ^ In the second, qualitative phase, four case studies, selected on typical response and maximal variation principle, one from each of the four participant groups (Beginning, Matriculated, Graduates, and Withdrawn/Inactive), explored the results from the statistical tests in more depth. The data collection included multiple sources. Four themes related to the participants' persistence in the program emerged in the thematic analysis of each case and across the cases: quality of academic experiences, online learning environment, support and assistance, and self-motivation. In each case, the themes differed in the number and similarity of categories comprising them. There were more similarities between the participants still in the program, than with the graduated or withdrawn/inactive members. The quality of the program and students' academic experiences learning in the online environment was the most discussed theme. Quality and online learning environment were also the reasons for withdrawal from the program. ^ The results of the quantitative and qualitative phases were integrated while interpreting the outcomes of the entire study. Based on the findings from the quantitative and qualitative phases of the study, a preliminary model of students' persistence in a distributed doctoral program was developed. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, Educational Psychology

Recommended Citation

Ivankova, Nataliya V, "Students' persistence in the University of Nebraska -Lincoln Distributed Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership in Higher Education: A mixed methods study" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3131545.