The dissertation institute: EEvaluation of a doctoral student writing workshop

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

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

4 Scopus citations


This research to practice full paper describes an answer to a problem described in a study completed by the Council of Graduate Schools, where data showed that doctoral students in the United States are departing from their pursuit of the Ph.D. at high rates. Additionally, the study showed that the departure rates for underrepresented minorities (URM) (i.e., African-American, Native American, Pacific Islander American, and Hispanic American) are higher, as they complete their Ph.D. at lesser rates than their majority peers. Previous research has suggested that lack of motivation during the dissertation phase is one of the leading factors for students' decision to depart. This phase of the doctoral pursuit is often characterized as lonely and filled with uncertainty about the process towards degree completion.To address this problem, we have created the Dissertation Institute. This NSF-funded research project consists of a one-week workshop for underrepresented minorities in the final phases of their Ph.D. in engineering. The goal of the workshop is to offer a practical and timely experience for doctoral students to help them progress through degree completion. The design of this workshop is grounded in research to address issues typical of the final phases of the Ph.D., help shorten students' time-to-degree and increase doctoral completion rates for URM. While similar programs already exist, the Institute differs by simultaneously collecting research data that will further the understanding of the success and value beliefs of its participants and help develop future workshops.The purpose of this publication is to present a description of the Dissertation Institute as well as the evaluation results for its first implementation which took place in the summer of 2017. The evaluation plan consists of participant pre and post surveys, observations, and individual session assessments. Preliminary results show that the Dissertation Institute increased students' success beliefs and utility and cost-benefit value in academic writing. Results also showed that students appreciated having a safe space to communicate their academic concerns with session facilitators and fellow doctoral students. Students also expressed the individualized attention from the workshop facilitators aided in the transfer of the advice received throughout the multiple sessions to their specific pursuits. Findings from this evaluation will inform future development and implementations of the Institute and help inform the design of similar workshops.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFrontiers in Education
Subtitle of host publicationFostering Innovation Through Diversity, FIE 2018 - Conference Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9781538611739
StatePublished - Jul 2 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event48th Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2018 - San Jose, United States
Duration: Oct 3 2018Oct 6 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference48th Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Jose


  • Dissertation
  • Motivation
  • Ph.D. completion
  • Underrepresented racial minorities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


Dive into the research topics of 'The dissertation institute: EEvaluation of a doctoral student writing workshop'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this