Clara TickalFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Shanté Moore Austin


Doctoral Persistence, Persistence, Post-Secondary Education, Social Support, Spiritual Support, Transcendental Phenomenology


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Other Education


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to investigate the role of spiritual support in the persistence of online students who have completed their doctorate in education. The definition of internal spiritual support used in this study was “support perceived in the context of an individual’s relationship with God” (Maton, 1989, p. 319). Internal support included the prayers, personal Bible study, and other forms of spiritual interaction between the doctoral student and God. For the purpose of this study, external spiritual support was defined as the spiritual aspect of social support. External support included the spiritual support provided by the prayers, Bible verses, and other forms of spiritual encouragement given by peers, friends, family, and professors. Persistence was defined in this study as “. . . the result of students’ decisions to continue their participation in the learning event under analysis” (Berge & Huang, 2004, p. 4). A purposive sampling of seven students who persisted and graduated from an online doctoral program in education was utilized. The setting was a Christian university in the Eastern United States with an online doctoral program. Interviews, journaling, and site documents were used as methods of data collection. The data analysis procedure included epoche/bracketing, horizonalization, clusters of meanings, textural descriptions, and structural descriptions. Composite description was the final step and revealed the essence of the participants’ experiences (Creswell, 2007).