Revising the dissertation institute: Contextual factors relevant to transferability

Juan M. Cruz, Mayra S. Artiles, Holly M. Matusovich, Gwen Lee-Thomas, Stephanie G. Adams

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Data show that underrepresented minority (URM) engineering students have lower rates of completion and higher rates of attrition in their doctoral studies than their majority peers. To address attrition and support students, we have developed a research-based intervention that we call the Dissertation Institute (DI). As part of a five-year NSF-funded project, we have developed and refined the DI as a one-week intensive writing and workshop experience for URM in the final phases of their engineering doctoral degrees. We have hosted two DIs to date (2017 and 2018) and we are preparing for our third DI in 2019. The goal of the DI is to offer practical and timely experiences for URM doctoral students to contribute to their degree success. At the same time, we have been researching the motivational factors that promote or detract from degree progress. This analysis looks across the data we have collected and analyzed to date to describe how the DI has evolved over time and in research-informed ways. This approach is in alignment with the final project research question: What are the critical contextual differences between the annual DIs that are important to consider with regard to transferability of DI for future sustainability? We believe that other institutions, programs, and advisors can use our findings in developing local workshops as our research broadly indicates that the first two offerings of the DI have positively impacted students' motivation to finish their dissertation. In critically examining the DI itself and documenting the changes over time, we find that: 1) lack of writing is a symptom of other challenges in pursuing the doctoral degree, and 2) a balance of writing time and professional development is needed to support students. Although heavily grounded in research data (e.g., comparative analysis of quantitative and qualitative data gathered in each of the prior Dis), herein we describe the evolving design of the DI and lessons learned to date.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 15 2019
Externally publishedYes
Event126th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Charged Up for the Next 125 Years, ASEE 2019 - Tampa, United States
Duration: Jun 15 2019Jun 19 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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