Kenneth R. Sisneros
The Phenomenological research method, is a method used in qualitative research, that is a design of inquiry that comes from philosophy and psychology. This research method the researcher describes the in-depth experiences of people in relation to a particular phenomenon as described by participants (Creswell, 2014, p. 14). A research method is the cornerstone and the framework of any study and it supports and tries to answer the proposed research questions that the researcher is attempting to solve (Maxwell, 2012). Researchers might utilize different techniques and strategies, but the core and heart of any qualitative research project is about understanding and the interruption of the subject’s story (Jacobs ; Furgerson, 2012, p. 1). Many researchers choose this method because its design allows for personal and participant connection, as they talk about experience that the participant lived through.
Phenomenological research studies are appropriate for examining the human experiences through the account, perspective, and descriptions of the people involved who lived through the event. These human experiences are referred to by phenomenological researchers as lived experiences. The point of a phenomenological research study is to depict the importance that each lived experiences has for each subject. This research method is generally used to study a field, or research questions in areas that have little to no knowledge on them (Donalek, 2004).
In dealing with phenomenological research method, subjects are typically asked to recall their experiences as they perceived the events to happen. This research study lend itself to more of a interview method to obtain the information, however, some researchers have asked their subject to write about their lived experiences to better capture the details.
There are two challenges that come to mind when taking on a phenomenological research. The First one is phenomenological research requires the researcher interrupt the information, making what they call “phenomenological reduction” a very important factor to decrease biases, preconceived philosophies, and or expectations, about the lived experience. This leads to researcher bias, which can alter the information in a research project and is often hard to detect. The second one is the researcher’s subjects have to be able to express their thoughts and emotions about the lived experience in such a way that the researcher can extrapolate the information necessary to add value to the research. This is often difficult for subjects to articulate themselves, and their experience for a number of reasons such as generational gaps, knowledge of the key terms, language barriers, embarrassment, gender issues, recognition, age, emotions involved, and poor memory. If, the researcher doesn’t have the skills to identify the information from the lived experiences data gathered can be useless.
In recent studies forty to sixty percent of doctoral students who begin an online doctorate in selective colleges and universities do not go on to graduate (Blair ; Haworth, 1990). This is problematic for many universities who need students to go through their program in order to build credibility, stay in business and creating future researchers. However, many academic scholars contribute this high rate of online doctoral attrition to the lack of doctoral persistence and more specifically what key factors are causing students to end their doctoral candidacy. This phenomenological study addresses what key experiences past doctoral candidates experienced which led to them leaving their studies and adding to the academic discharge rate among students in an online doctoral program.
As much research has been done to quantify the true number behind the attrition among doctoral programs. This phenomenological study will interview subjects who have resigned from their respected universities, in order to ascertain the reasons for students leaving their online doctoral program.
What was the deciding factor that caused you to leave your academic studies behind, more specifically the ones involving your online doctoral program?
Did you ever seek help to involve the main issue that cause you to leave your online academic studies?
The first question allows the researcher to get an understanding of what caused the student to leave their academic studies behind. This also gives the researcher the ability to probe further on whether this was a manifested issue or a true issue that could not be avoided, expected to be resolved by leaving the students’ academic studies. For example, the student had to leave their academic studies due to a financial hardship of losing their job. This would be an issue that cannot be resolved only by leaving their program. For example, of a manifested issue, a student improperly planning their time could lead to the feeling of being overwhelmed and not wanting to continue to move on. This brings me to question number two, which is designed to see if the issue could have been resolved had the student sought the appropriate help needed to resolve the issue. Using the example above, the student could seek help on time management to eliminate the feeling of being overwhelmed. This information can only be obtained through an interview process in which the researcher asks the subject or in this case the student did they seek further help in solving their internal issue.
Although studies have been conducted to show the impact doctoral persistence has on a student choosing to leave their studies, there is a gap in the research. There is not a single database that pinpoints why a student chooses to leave. This research will take phenomenological approach to trying to understand What causes students to leave their academic studies behind. Also, it will give universities the opportunity to understand if students are seeking help prior to leaving. This information will allow the universities to intervene at an earlier stage in the students’ academic studies and give them the appropriate help needed necessary to complete the online doctoral program.
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