The 10 “C”s Towards Authentically Supporting Doctoral Students: Gracefully and Successfully Supporting Doctoral Students Towards Completing the Capstone Experience

The 10 “C”s Towards Authentically Supporting Doctoral Students: Gracefully and Successfully Supporting Doctoral Students Towards Completing the Capstone Experience

Caroline M. Crawford (University of Houston – Clear Lake, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9707-0.ch006

Abstract

Doctoral candidates progressing through their dissertation capstone requires not only research and scholarly support, but also engagement towards supporting the doctoral candidate's metamorphosis from a student to a member of the academy, from an agentic social cognitive transformation, from a product developed through the coursework experiences towards a triumphant specialist displaying command over the knowledge base through the display of the dissertation attainment success. The support structure delineated within this discussion reflects the following 10 “C”s: corroborating clarity, championing communication,; championing self-regulation, completing calendar timetables, categorizing priorities, continuous motivation, carrying cognitive load concerns, conquering frustration, cognitive vulnerability, and correcting plagiaristic tendencies.
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Introduction

Every academic has successfully progressed through their doctoral studies, towards achieving doctoral candidacy and then overcoming the masochistic hurdle of the doctoral capstone experience. The dreaded dissertation. How do some doctoral candidates successfully complete their dissertation, while so many other doctoral candidates remain embedded in the attained “all but dissertation” status? So many of the doctoral candidates caught in the recursive “all but dissertation status may then either choose to leave the doctoral program of study or are exiled due to the timing deadlines.

The doctoral candidate is excitedly looking towards the ultimate achievement of the doctoral program, around achieving one’s doctoral capstone success and completing all requirements towards earning their doctorate and the official hooding during the graduation walk across the stage. Yet amongst the obvious efforts associated with the process, there are several aspects that can be embedded and highlighted throughout the doctoral capstone dissertation process.

This discussion highlights the doctoral candidate’s successful progression forward. Perhaps this progression is most easily highlighted through the project management mantra, to plan the work and work the plan. The landscape of continuing over the humps and hurdles may be metaphorically reflected as the realistic implicit and explicit insecurities and issues that arise, and that most doctoral candidates come up against. Setting a strong baseline of expectation quite early in the process must be overcome and achieved towards successful completion.

Towards a forward-looking support structure, enhancing the potential for doctoral student success and towards progression to overcome implicit and explicit insecurities or traps that may ensnare the doctoral student and hinder one’s doctoral capstone success, there are ten “C”s that may be clearly articulated as worthy of focus and endeavor to achieve:

  • Corroborating Clarity

  • Championing Communication

  • Championing Self-Regulation

  • Completing Calendar Timetables

  • Categorizing Priorities

  • Continuous Motivation

  • Carrying Cognitive Load Concerns

  • Conquering Frustration

  • Cognitive Vulnerability

  • Correcting Plagiaristic Tendencies

Each of these elements must be integrated towards the doctoral candidate’s doctoral capstone success, as the lack of scheduling, deadlines, and external timetable rigor can entangle the doctoral candidate in side journeys that lead the journey astray. Throughout the discussion, an elaboration of each of the ten “C”s will occur, while also offering suggestions towards implementing support structures towards doctoral candidate success during the doctoral capstone journey.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Cognitive Load: This is a theory that reflects that a person taking in new or unusually represented information needs the ability to have time to understand and integrate the new information or unusually used information into their concept of the world.

Doctoral Student: The doctoral student is a person who is progressing through their doctoral program of study coursework. This person has not yet passed the comprehensive examination stage of the program’s expectations, and therefore cannot begin working on their doctoral capstone (dissertation).

Doctoral Candidate: A doctoral candidate is a person progressing through their doctoral studies, who has completed all requisite coursework throughout the doctoral program of study, passed the comprehensive examinations, and the final achievement is the doctoral capstone. The doctoral capstone is, within many institutions, the dissertation.

Motivation: This term encompasses several different theories and areas of research, from self-efficacy to self-regulation to innumerable other aspects of the teaching and learning cognitive support process, as well as better understanding how the learner thinks about herself or himself as capable of learning and their internal view of their ability to succeed.

Doctoral Capstone: The doctoral capstone is the very last thing that the person progressing through the doctoral program of study (doctoral student, relabeled as doctoral candidate upon completing coursework and passing the comprehensive examination), before successfully completing their doctoral studies. The doctoral capstone, in many instances, is the dissertation.

Self-Regulation: This is an area of study, focused upon framing and supporting the learner’s ability to progressively move forward through a step-by-step process towards a successful outcome. This may be a checklist, a timeline schedule, or innumerable other tools that support the person’s endeavors.

Allocentric Effect: This is a psychological response, to a situation in the midst of behavioral shifts and changes, that highlights a positive chemistry response within one’s body.

Self-Efficacy: This is a belief in oneself, suggesting the extent to which a person believes that she or he is capable of being successful in whatever learning or effort that she or he chooses to endeavor towards attaining.

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