School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Amanda Rockinson-Szapkiw


academic integration, distance education, doctoral persistence, program integration, social integration


Higher Education


Doctoral attrition rates range between 40%-60%. Attrition rates increase 10%-20% in the distance education (DE) environment. Academic integration and social integration are key elements of doctoral student integration and predictors of student persistence at any program stage. Instruments exist to measure academic integration and social integration for undergraduate students; however, no instruments exist that specifically measure both academic integration and social integration of doctoral students in DE programs at any program stage. The purpose of this research was to develop and analyze the structure, validity, and reliability of the Distance Doctoral Integration Scale (DDIS). Instrument development followed a multi-step process. After DDIS development, a subject matter expert review panel established instrument content and face validity. A DDIS pilot test (n = 8) further assessed content and face validity. The DDIS was then administered electronically via snowball sampling to doctoral students (n = 282) in DE programs. An exploratory factor analysis was used to analyze the DDIS structure and validity. Reliability was assessed using Cronbach’s alpha and test-retest of previous participants (n = 109). The result indicated the 32-item DDIS is a valid and reliable instrument. However, the results also indicated the DDIS measures different factors than those hypothesized and provided a new conceptualization of program integration of doctoral students in DE programs.