This bibliography has been designed to provide interested individuals with a list of recent readings relevant to the analysis of graduate attrition in the sciences and humanities. The bibliography is not intended to serve as a comprehensive list of publications in this area; rather it is meant to serve as a mechanism to orient readers to literature on this topic.
Abedi, Jamal, and Ellen Benkin 1987 "The Effects of Students' Academic, Financial, and Demographic Variables on Time to the Doctorate." Research in Higher Education 27 (March 14):3-14.
The most important variable in time-to-degree was the source of support during graduate school. "Own earnings" especially add to time-to-degree. Fifth in importance was field of study. Also included are data from the National Research Council's Doctorates Records File on 4,255 students receiving doctoral degrees at UCLA between 1976 and 1985.
Arnold, Louise, Kenneth R. Mares, and E. Virginia Calkins 1986 "Exit Interviews Reveal Why Students Leave a BA-MD Degree Program Prematurely." College and University 62:34-47.
Interviews with 21 students who did not complete the program are examined. The primary source of dissatisfaction expressed by students was their perception that faculty were not approachable.
Association of American Universities (AAU) 1990 "Institutional Policies to Improve Doctoral Education." A Policy Statement of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Graduate Schools in the AAU. Washington, DC: AAU.
Universities that have carried out comparative assessments of doctoral programs have found that departments with well-structured programs, clear expectations of graduate student performance and faculty responsibilities, and widely shared faculty commitments to encourage and facilitate students' progress have lower attrition rates and shorter times-to-degree than comparable departments whose programs lack those properties.
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--> Annotated Bibliography This bibliography has been designed to provide interested individuals with a list of recent readings relevant to the analysis of graduate attrition in the sciences and humanities. The bibliography is not intended to serve as a comprehensive list of publications in this area; rather it is meant to serve as a mechanism to orient readers to literature on this topic. Abedi, Jamal, and Ellen Benkin 1987 "The Effects of Students' Academic, Financial, and Demographic Variables on Time to the Doctorate." Research in Higher Education 27 (March 14):3-14. The most important variable in time-to-degree was the source of support during graduate school. "Own earnings" especially add to time-to-degree. Fifth in importance was field of study. Also included are data from the National Research Council's Doctorates Records File on 4,255 students receiving doctoral degrees at UCLA between 1976 and 1985. Arnold, Louise, Kenneth R. Mares, and E. Virginia Calkins 1986 "Exit Interviews Reveal Why Students Leave a BA-MD Degree Program Prematurely." College and University 62:34-47. Interviews with 21 students who did not complete the program are examined. The primary source of dissatisfaction expressed by students was their perception that faculty were not approachable. Association of American Universities (AAU) 1990 "Institutional Policies to Improve Doctoral Education." A Policy Statement of the Association of American Universities and the Association of Graduate Schools in the AAU. Washington, DC: AAU. Universities that have carried out comparative assessments of doctoral programs have found that departments with well-structured programs, clear expectations of graduate student performance and faculty responsibilities, and widely shared faculty commitments to encourage and facilitate students' progress have lower attrition rates and shorter times-to-degree than comparable departments whose programs lack those properties.
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--> Bean, John P. 1980 "Drop-outs and Turnover: The Synthesis and Test of a Causal Model of Student Attrition." Research in Higher Education 12 (2):155-87. Questionnaires were distributed to approximately 1,200 university freshmen to develop and test a causal model of student attrition. The causal model synthesized research findings on turnover in work organizations with student attrition from institutions of higher education. Benkin, Ellen M. 1984 "Where Have All the Doctoral Students Gone? A Study of Doctoral Students' Attrition at UCLA." Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles. The study focused on approximately 4,300 students who entered doctoral programs at UCLA in 1969, 1970, and 1971. The status of students was examined at the end of the 1981 spring term. Blume, S., and O. Amsterdamska 1987 Postgraduate Education in the 1980s. Paris: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The report discusses graduate education (master's and doctoral) in countries having membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), with particular attention on the duration of research training and the problem of noncompletion. An important reason for not completing the dissertation was a poor working relationship with the advisor and/or committee (except for bioscientists). Data from telephone interviews with 25 former doctoral students in psychology, sociology, zoology, physics, electrical engineering, and biochemistry are included. Bodian, Lester Hal 1987 "Career Instrumentality of Degree Completion as a Factor in Doctoral Student Attrition." Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland. A theory of career instrumentality (the extent to which a doctoral student perceives that the completion of the degree is relevant to a career goal) is developed through a study of the literature on employee turnover and graduate attrition. Data from a survey of 670 Ph.D. students at the University of Maryland in 1986 is presented. Career motivation (a desire to enter the guild) is shown to affect student persistence in maintaining relationships with faculty members. Bowen, William G., and Neil L. Rudenstine 1992 In Pursuit of the Ph.D. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. The study reviews data from ten leading research universities regarding the educational experiences of 35,000 graduate students in English, history, political science, economics, mathematics, and physics, as well as the graduate experiences of 13,000 winners of prestigious national fellowships. The authors conclude that there are opportunities to achieve significant improvements in the organization and functioning of graduate programs.
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--> Burke, James D. 1983 "Chapel Hill, Berkeley Head Graduate Rankings." Chemical and Engineering News 61:69. Tabulation of degrees awarded in chemistry in 1981-82. 1984 "Urbana, Chapel Hill Top Graduate Rankings." Chemical and Engineering News 62:43. Tabulation of degrees awarded in chemistry in 1982-83. 1986 "Indiana New Leader of Graduate Listing." Chemical and Engineering News 64:59. Tabulation of degrees awarded in chemistry in 1984-85. 1988 "A Four-Year Model for the Ph.D. Degree Program in Chemistry." Journal of Chemical Education 65:592-93. The author notes that registered time-to-degree at his alma mater, the University of California at Berkeley, has increased from three and one-half years in the early 1960s to five years plus in the mid-1980s. He suggests a program design for degree completion in four years (emphasizing an early introduction to research and productivity), and the use of effective management practices, noting that there is extensive literature on the management of research. The article is based on the author's experience and offers a prescription for shorter time-to-degree in a graduate program in chemistry. Cabrera, Alberto F., Maria B. Castaneda, Amaury Nora, and Dennis Hengstler 1992 "The Convergence Between Two Theories of College Persistence." Journal of Higher Education 63:143-64. The article examines evidence for the convergent and discriminant validity of V. Tinto's student integration model and J. Beans's model of student departure by tracking student outcomes of an entering freshman class (fall 1988) at a large southwestern institution. Clark, Burton R. 1990 The Research Foundations of Graduate Education: A Five-Country Exploration. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools. The relationship of research to teaching and learning is at the heart of core problems in higher education. This cross-national analysis of other national systems of higher education allows for isolating some of the similarities and crucial differences in the system of American higher education. Deck, Joseph C. 1982 "Chemistry Ph.D. Production in the United States." Journal of Chemical Education 59:1002-04. This study presents a tabulation of Ph.D. production by Roose-Andersen rankings, demonstrating that the best departments produce the most Ph.D.s.
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--> Dolph, Robert F. 1983 "Factors Relating to Success or Failure in Obtaining the Doctorate." Ph.D. diss., Georgia State University. This study presents the results of a survey of 266 doctoral students (145 Ph.D.s and 121 drop-outs) enrolled between 1970 and 1980 in the program of educational administration at Georgia State University. Significant differences are shown between Ph.D.s (positive experience) and dropouts (negative experience) in faculty relationships. Ehrenberg, Ronald G. 1991 "Academic Labor Supply." In Economic Challenges in Higher Education, Part 2, edited by Charles T. Clotfelter, Ronald G. Ehrenberg, Malcolm Getz, and John J. Siegfried. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Data that were collected for a set of selected major universities during the 1970s and 1980s suggest that completion rates, while varying widely across fields and institutions, tend to lie in the 40 to 70 percent range. Girves, Jean E., and Virginia Wemmerus 1988 "Developing Models of Graduate Student Degree Progress." Journal of Higher Education 59:163-89. This article proposes a model that links several variables to predict progress toward a graduate degree. Data were collected from a survey of 486 students entering at a major Midwestern university in the fall of 1977 and measured in 1984. Department characteristics were shown to be an important predictor of progress toward a degree, while the student's relationship with the advisor was found to be critical to graduate success. Glover, Robert H., and Jerry Wilcox 1992 "An Interactive Model for Studying Student Retention." AIR Professional File 44 (Spring). The authors present an overview of a design for improving the quality of information available for the continuous operational study of student retention at the University of Hartford. They address concerns about maintaining the confidentiality of files, while providing information to professional administrators, counselors, and faculty advisors. Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) 1992 Fateful Choices. The Future of the U.S. Academic Research Enterprise. A Discussion Paper. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. This discussion paper examines recent trends affecting academic research in the U.S.; considers the impact of trends on the current academic research enterprise (the group of American universities and colleges performing significant research in the sciences and engineering); identifies longer-term issues that will affect the enterprise in the future; and explores ways in which the enterprise can meet future challenges.
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--> Griskey, Richard G. 1990 "The Interrelationship of Faculty, Research Funds, and Doctoral Degrees." Engineering Education 80:23-26. This article discusses the relationships in engineering over an unspecified three year period and provides a model for use in any engineering school. Hauptman, Arthur M. 1986 Students in Graduate and Professional Education: What We Know and Need to Know. Washington, DC: Association of American Universities. The study presents data from the National Center for Education Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, the NRC Doctorate Records File, and various federal departments for finishing graduate students in year groups from 1965 to 1983. It points out significant differences by field of study and type of financial support for graduate education. The results are divided among physical sciences, life sciences, and engineering; social sciences and humanities; education and professional; and others. Herriott, Robert E. 1989 "A Survey of Recent Ph.D. Attrition Studies Conducted by AGS Institutions." Paper presented at the annual conference of the Association of Graduate Schools, Minneapolis, Minnesota. The paper presents nine attrition studies, completed by members of the AGS, that indicate attrition is greater in the humanities and social sciences than in physical and biological sciences. Hewitt, Nancy M., and Elaine Seymour 1991 Talking About Leaving. Factors Contributing to High Attrition Rates Among Science, Mathematics & Engineering Undergraduate Majors. Final Report to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation on Ethnographic Inquiry at Seven Institutions. Boulder, CO: Bureau of Sociological Research, University of Colorado. The report presents interviews with 149 current and former science, mathematics, and engineering (SME) students at seven institutions to elicit the range of factors which contribute to attrition from SME majors. Theories about the relative experiences of "switchers" and "non-switchers" are presented. Heylin, Michael 1989 "Berkeley, Illinois Top Producers of Chemists." Chemical and Engineering News 67:99. Tabulation of degrees awarded in chemistry 1987-88. Isaac, Paul D., Roy A. Koenigsknecht, Gary D. Malaney, and John E. Karras 1989 "Factors Related to Doctoral Dissertation Topic Selection." Research in Higher Education 30:357-73. This article explores the circumstances of selecting a dissertation topic and suggests that the dissertation may be a significant factor in lengthening time-to-degree. Data are derived from a survey of 438 finishing doctoral
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--> students at a major Midwestern research university in education, humanities, mathematics and physics, social and behavioral sciences, arts, engineering, business, agriculture, and biosciences from June 1986 to March 1987. Dissertation decisions affecting time-to-degree are shown to differ by field of study. The study also indicates that science students benefit from close faculty supervision by having a shorter time-to-degree than other students. Jacks, Penelope, Daryl E. Chubin, Alan L. Porter, and Terry Connolly 1983 "The ABCs of ABDs: A Study of Incomplete Doctorates." Improving College and University Teaching 31:74-81. This study of former doctoral students in psychology, sociology, zoology, physics, electrical engineering, and biochemistry shows that the principal reasons for not completing their dissertation vary by field of study. The primary reason for failure to complete their program was a poor working relationship with the advisor and/or committee. Jones, George Bryan, Jr. 1987 "Eleven Years of Admissions to the Temple University Ph.D. Program in Counseling Psychology, 1970-1980: A Study in Program Completion." Ph.D. diss., Temple University. This study is based on a survey of 117 doctoral students (85 of whom earned the Ph.D.) at Temple University in 1986 and finds that that faculty management of student research is an important factor in degree completion or noncompletion. Langenbach, Michael, and Lloyd Korhonen 1988 "Persisters and Nonpersisters in a Graduate Level Nontraditional Liberal Education Program." Adult Education Quarterly 38 (3):136-48. This is an exploratory study of "persisters and nonpersisters" in a graduate level, nontraditional liberal education program. Five demographic factors proved to be significant: age; type of bachelor's degree; years between completion of the bachelor's degree and enrollment in an M.A. degree program; site; and the social science score on the Undergraduate Assessment Program Test. LeBlanc, Albert 1984 "The Challenge We Face with the Music Doctorate." Music Educators Journal 71:34-37. This article considers doctoral programs in music in a general period of decline in job opportunities. It recommends a reduction in program size while working to improve program quality. Miselis, Karen L., William McManus, and Eileen Kraus 1991 "We Can Improve Our Graduate Programs: Analysis of Ph.D. Student Attrition and Time-to-Degree at the University of Pennsylvania." Paper presented at the Annual Forum of the Association of Institutional Research, San Francisco, California, May 29.
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--> This paper describes efforts to build a data base from institutional files to analyze time-to-degree and Ph.D. completion rates in 32 graduate groups from students matriculating between the fall of 1973 and the spring of 1989. National Research Council (NRC) 1990 On Time to the Doctorate. A Study of the Increased Time to Complete Doctorates in Science and Engineering . Washington, DC: National Academy Press. This study presents an analysis of doctoral completion times since 1967. It provides a time-series data base for the period from 1967 to 1986 and develops a model that explains some of the factors that have been responsible for lengthening time-to-degree. Nerad, Maresi 1991 Doctoral Education at the University of California and Factors Affecting Time-To-Degree. Oakland, CA: Office of the President, University of California. The study reviews data from the National Research Council, from interviews with approximately 300 doctoral students, and from selected campuses of the University of California System to examine whether students took longer to complete their doctorates in the 1980s than they did 20 years earlier at the University of California. Factors that might account for observed differences are examined. Nerad, Maresi, and Joseph Cerny 1991 "From Facts to Action: Expanding the Educational Role of the Graduate Division." Communicator (May Special Edition). Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools. The study compares average time-to-degree in Ph.D. programs and completion rates at the University of California at Berkeley to national trends and similar analyses at comparable institutions. It finds (1) a wide variance in time-to-degree and completion rates by field of study and (2) shorter time-to-degree for students in engineering and natural sciences than for students in the humanities and social sciences. A similar variance for completion rates was noted. Poor communication and lack of guidance from faculty members were found to contribute to longer time-to-degree. The authors describe various research activities to address these issues, including quantitative analyses supplemented with qualitative methods to develop a basis for designing recommendations and programmatic outreach activities. Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) 1989 Research Manpower: Managing Supply and Demand. Paris: OECD. Realizing the value of exchanging information on experience in the development of human resources for research and development, OECD organized a meeting of member countries to help them develop improved strategies and techniques for managing scientific and technological
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--> development more efficiently. The various mechanisms which are involved in the education of research personnel are considered to form a dynamic system whose output is the flow of new personnel and whose behavior is affected by inputs, some of which are amenable to control. Rawls, Rebecca L. 1987 "Facts and Figures for Chemical R&D." Chemical and Engineering News 65:32-62. Tabulation of research support in academic chemistry in 1985. Rudd, Ernest 1985 A New Look at Postgraduate Failure. Guilford, England: SRHE & NFER-Nelson. This study examines arguments of loss/gain by delay in achieving the doctorate, and it develops five groups of reasons for delay or noncompletion: (1) qualities of the student, (2) personal problems/accidents unrelated to their studies, (3) problems inherent in research, (4) personal academic problems, and (5) teaching and supervision. Recommendations pertaining to the organization of supervision are made. The data, measured as of 1966 on 1,008 students who entered doctoral study in 1957 and finished the doctorate in Britain, indicate that time-to-degree was shorter in science and technology groups than in social studies, languages, literature and area studies, and other arts groups. 1986 "The Drop-Outs and the Dilatory on the Road to the Doctorate." Higher Education in Europe 11 (4):31-36. The study looks at the problem of attrition and time-to-degree in Britain. Supervision of graduate work is identified as a major problem. Science and Engineering Research Council and Social Science Research Council 1983 Interdisciplinary Research Selection, Supervision and Training . Brighton, England: University of Sussex. This study presents data from a survey of 190 doctoral students in Britain who completed their Ph.D.s in 1978-79 in engineering, science, and social science. It found that time-to-degree is higher in social science than in engineering and science, and almost half of the sample cited difficulties with faculty supervision of students' research. Tidball, M. Elizabeth 1986 "Baccalaureate Origins of Recent Natural Science Doctorates." Journal of Higher Education 57:606-20. The study discusses two findings: (1) that 288 undergraduate programs account for a majority of doctoral graduates in the natural sciences; and (2) that colleges are more productive than universities (private more productive than public), and that private colleges are more productive than private universities.
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--> Tinto, Vincent 1982 "Limits of Theory and Practice in Student Attrition." Journal of Higher Education 53 (6):687-700. The author reviews the limits of the research and theory dealing with undergraduate student attrition. 1991 "Toward a Theory of Graduate Persistence." Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, Illinois. Data from the literature are presented, showing that field of study has greater influence on doctoral persistence than the institution. The faculty-mentor relationship is also shown to be a major factor in degree completion. Tuckman, Howard P., Susan Coyle, and Yupin Bae 1989 "The Lengthening of Time to Completion of the Doctorate Degree." Research in Higher Education 30:503-16. The study discusses how time-to-degree has increased in 11 scientific and engineering fields, indicating the differences and increases and calling for further research on cause. Data from the NRC Doctorate Records File for 1967, 1977, and 1987 in physical sciences, biological sciences, and social sciences are presented, showing a greater increase in time-to-degree for social sciences than for physical and biological sciences. U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment 1988 Educating Scientists and Engineers: Grade School to Grad School . OTASET-377. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. This report examines the forces associated with elementary and secondary education that shape the talent pool; traces pathways to undergraduate and graduate education in science and engineering; and presents a discussion of policy areas for possible congressional action developed under two strategies labeled "retention" and "recruitment." 1989 Higher Education for Science and Engineering—A Background Paper . OTA BP-SET-52. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. The paper looks at American colleges and universities as producers of a future work force and provides a perspective on fledgling scientists and engineers, focusing on the endpoint of educational preparation—undergraduate and graduate study—for science and engineering careers. Valentine, Nancy L. 1987 "Factors Related to Attrition from Doctor of Education Programs." Paper presented at annual meeting of the Association of Institutional Research, Kansas City, Missouri, May 3-6. This paper is a study of completers and noncompleters of Ed.D. at West Virginia University and shows that recipients of the degree are more
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--> likely to have positive relationships with faculty. Zetterblom, Goran 1986 ''Postgraduate Education in Sweden: Reforms and Results." European Journal of Education 21:261-73. This narrative discusses problems experienced in time to doctoral degree in Sweden and steps taken. It found that long study periods and high dropout rates led to the improvement of student grants. Concomitantly, time limits were tightened up, and admission qualifications were made more stringent. Data are derived from Swedish literature. Disciplinary differences in the conduct of graduate study are noted. The study found there is less attrition and shorter time-to-degree in the natural sciences than in the humanities and social sciences and that strong faculty supervision results in lower attrition and time-to-degree in the sciences. Zwick, Rebecca 1991 An Analysis of Graduate School Careers in Three Universities: Differences in Attainment Patterns Across Academic Programs and Demographic Groups. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Data on 4,637 doctoral students entering at three major research universities from 1978 to 1985 in chemistry, English, history, mathematics, political science, psychology, economics, philosophy, physics, computer science, and sociology indicated that doctoral candidacy is achieved earliest in chemistry, mathematics, physics, and computer science; next in psychology, political science, sociology, and economics; latest in history, English, and philosophy. Zwick, Rebecca, and Henry I. Braun 1988 Methods for Analyzing the Attainment of Graduate School Milestones: A Case Study. GRE Board Professional Report No. 86-3P. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service. Data measured in 1987 on 1,379 doctoral students entering Northwestern University from 1972 to 1978 in psychology, chemistry, English, history, mathematics, political science, chemical engineering, economics, philosophy, physics, sociology, theatre, and computer science show that attrition appears to be highest in English, history, political science, economics, and philosophy.