School of Communication and the Arts
Doctor of Philosophy
African American, Blacks, Doctoral Students, Attrition, Resilience, Persistence, Strategies
Davis, Dudley, "Utilizing Resilience and Persistence Strategies to Reduce African American Doctoral Attrition" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4095.
The purpose of this qualitative phenomenological study is to explore the attrition rate of African American doctoral students and how to improve their retention and graduation using resilience and persistence. Across all disciplines, 40–60% of students who began doctoral programs did not persist to graduation (Falconer & Djokic, 2019; Mirick & Wladkowski, 2020). A semi-structured interview format was used to collect the data from 27 African American participants, 20 females and 7 males, who had already obtained their doctoral degrees. The study sought to explain the phenomenon of African American doctoral students who persevered to finish their degree, in spite of the overwhelming statistical attrition rate before them, and to identify the strategies they used to pull them through. The findings suggest African American doctoral students overwhelmingly relied on three strategies, time management, consistent communication with mentors/professors, and cohort/student support to push through their doctoral journey successfully. In addition, 81% of the participants, at one point or another, considered dropping out, a rate higher than the current attrition rate of 40–60%. The study provides recommendations for higher learning institutions, mentors, and students.