School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Lucinda Spaulding


Orientation, Doctor of Education, Online, Attrition, Retention, Doctoral Persistence


Education | Higher Education | Online and Distance Education


The purpose of this grounded theory study was to develop a model for a distance education (DE) Doctor of Education (EdD) program orientation based on the perspectives of students, non-persisters, alumni, faculty, and administrators. As students pursue a DE EdD, they must navigate a variety of stages and may require different levels of support at each stage. To develop a model that bridges the different stages of the EdD, this study sought to answer the following research questions: (a) How do DE EdD students persist in each stage of the doctoral journey? (b) How do DE EdD students integrate (socially, academically, with their families, and financially) in their programs and universities? (c) What are the necessary components and delivery model for an orientation to DE EdD programs? To answer these questions, the researcher collected data through surveys, student, non-persister, faculty, and alumni interviews, and focus groups with faculty members from two different institutions. The data from individual programs were analyzed through open, axial, and selective coding and then cross-case analysis occurred across the different programs to generate the model for an orientation to DE EdD programs. This study found that five types of support were vital throughout the doctoral journey. As a result, institutional, departmental, faculty, peer, and familial support components were integrated into a three-part (i.e., entry, coursework, and candidacy) orientation to DE EdD programs.