Exploring the predictors of doctoral students academic satisfaction

Çapa Aydın, Yeşim
Gelmez Burakgazi, Sevinç
Toplu, Ezgi
During last decade, doctoral education has been an issue of investigation and reform in response to several challenges. In United States, drop-out rates have been reported to be really high; i.e., about half does not persist to graduation (Bair & Haworth, 2004). The European Union changed the higher education agenda “to make Europe the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world” (Kehm, 2006, p. 67). In addition, the number of doctoral students has been observed to increase significantly within the last 10-15 years. Considering these issues and relationship between student satisfaction and completion of doctoral degree (Lovitts, 1996), investigating factors associated with academic satisfaction of doctoral students seems crucial to keep those students in the program. In contrast to widespread use of “master-apprentice model” in Europe (Kehm, 2006), more structured doctoral programs are present in Turkey. The current study investigated the contribution of different components of doctoral education to academic satisfaction. The findings regarding “what makes a difference” would provide implications for stakeholders to design and employ best practices of doctoral education. There is some evidence in the literature indicating that several personal and institutional factors contribute to the academic satisfaction (Bair & Haworth, 2004; Danielson, 1998). For example, the coursework is a common feature of structured doctoral programs. The more students perceive the coursework to be of high quality and value, the more satisfied they are with the program (Valentine, 1987). Meyers et al. (2000) found that coursework provided good foundation for students’ postdoctoral careers, as well. The advisor-advisee relationship is another important aspect of graduate education. The answer to the question of what makes a good advisor varies greatly in the literature. Bloom et al. (2007) found that effective advisor characteristics are care for students, accessibility, being role models both professionally and personally, individually tailored guidance, and engagement of students into the profession. Cronan-Hillix et al. (1986) reported the characteristics as interested, supportive, knowledgeable, and competent. Moreover, Offstein et al. (2004) found that supporter role of advisor results in satisfaction of graduate students and also were associated with positive consequences. There are some early studies showing contribution of the faculty-student relationship to job satisfaction (Levine & Weitz, 1968) and academic satisfaction (Gregg, 1972). Furthermore, Cropanzano et al. (1997) stated that administrator’s help in organizations to fulfill the needs of graduate students leads to improve their performance. In that sense, participative policy is considered to enhance communication among faculty and administrators resulting in better quality of education (Conway, 1984). Financial problems play an important role in satisfaction, as well. Working at a job outside of the school creates a disadvantage for students by limiting the time for studies. Most of the doctoral students complain about the lack of time to make research. Accordingly, Güven and Tunç (2007) found that financial problems affect the research productivity of the doctoral students. Graduate students are expected to conduct research studies and attend academic meetings in their field (Ku et al., 2008). However, these necessitate enough time, money, and technological resources.
European Conference on Educational Research (13 - 16 Eylül 2011)


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Citation Formats
Y. Çapa Aydın, S. Gelmez Burakgazi, and E. Toplu, “Exploring the predictors of doctoral students academic satisfaction,” presented at the European Conference on Educational Research (13 - 16 Eylül 2011), Berlin, Almanya, 2011, Accessed: 00, 2021. [Online]. Available: https://hdl.handle.net/11511/82808.