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An Explanatory Mixed Methods Study of Doctoral-Level Computer Literacy and Ed.D. Graduation Rates

Nicholas Miller, Johnson & Wales University


The U.S. doctoral education system ranks as one of the best in the world (National Science Foundation, 2018). Yet, doctoral attrition rates have averaged approximately 50% for decades (Church, 2009; Gardner, 2008; Lovitts, 2001). Research on the education doctorate (Ed.D.) is limited and often overshadowed by the larger body of Ph.D. studies or subsumed within research doctorates (Council of Graduate Schools, 2010; Ostriker, Kuh, & Voytuk, 2011). Educators may not effectively mitigate a student’s myriad challenges (Crook, 2015), including the advanced use of technical solutions, or doctoral-level computer literacy. The purpose of this sequential explanatory mixed methods study was to explore and investigate the relationship between program support for doctoral-level computer literacy and Ed.D. program completion rates. Ed.D. Program Directors and doctoral students representing the Carnegie Project on the Education Doctorate (CPED) (N = 110) completed a web-based survey questionnaire to obtain program and student perspectives data. Quantitative data were analyzed through descriptive statistics and correlational analyses, followed by a content analysis of interview data collected in the qualitative phase (N = 9). Results indicated that of the participating programs (N = 16), completion rates exceed the estimated national average for both completion within expected duration (65%) and overall (85%). Program Directors and students reported high levels of importance and requirement (respectively) for doctoral-level computer literacy. Both groups reported a lower frequency of training opportunities. Students also reported low levels of attendance despite high levels of value. No significant correlations were found between the studied educational technologies and completion rates. Interview data (N = 5) revealed student perceptions of program support for doctoral-level computer literacy, with all interviewees citing doctoral-level computer literacy as important or very important to program success and that challenges were overcome within the cohort model rather than through an institutional or programmatic resource. The lack, or perceived lack, of support became more evident as cohort interaction decreased in the dissertation phase. These findings may inform program administrators and faculty about the barriers to doctoral student success. Results may yield potential solutions to supporting doctoral students in all phases of their program work.

Subject Area

Educational leadership|Educational technology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Miller, Nicholas, "An Explanatory Mixed Methods Study of Doctoral-Level Computer Literacy and Ed.D. Graduation Rates" (2019). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI13881321.