Dissertation Support Groups: Building a Community of Practice Using Noddings' Ethic of Care
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As four women spending a quarter of a decade writing individual dissertations, our goal was not to write a chapter together. It was to complete the final step of our academic training with our sanity and self-images intact. Perhaps you too know the experience of dissertation writing: often brutal and isolating. There are no road maps or training guides — you need the stamina of a marathon runner. Dissertation writing demands deliberate and ongoing preparation, absolute devotion to a topic, commitment to months or years of research and writing, and an unwavering belief in the ability to realize a goal. Few sprint from start to finish. Instead, many get mired in a solitary, time-consuming process, often a decade-long endeavor (Hoffer & Welch, 2006).
Research indicates that approximately 25% of doctoral candidates abandon the pursuit upon reaching the dissertation stage (Ballinger, 2003). Those dropping out cite reasons such as lack of support systems and structure (Ballinger, 2003; Dorn & Papalewis, 1997). Other challenging pursuits, like marathon running, offer training programs, online regimens, and other organized support. Dissertation writing, however, offers few organized support systems. Although we discovered articles detailing structures for dissertation support groups, much of the literature was outdated or lacked practical information regarding sustaining a group while also “having a life.”
KeywordsDoctoral Student Lesson Study Personal Support Teacher Professional Development Conference Call
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