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University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies Faculty Publish Study on Success of Nontraditional Students in Online Doctoral Programs
[March 17, 2023]

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies Faculty Publish Study on Success of Nontraditional Students in Online Doctoral Programs

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies faculty Mansureh Kebritchi, Ph.D, chair, Center for Educational and Instructional Technology Research (CEITR), Mark McCaslin, Ph.D., and Ryan Rominger, Ph.D., published a study based on the experience of the College's doctoral students, "Contributing Factors for Success of Nontraditional Students at Online Doctoral Programs," in the publication, Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice.

"Our programs are designed to meet the needs of working adults seeking a practitioner experience in their doctoral studies," states Hinrich Eylers, Ph.D., vice provost of College of Doctoral Studies. "The study findings help demonstrate the success of our student experience and serve as a model for online doctoral programs."

Purposefully sampling to recruit 136 doctoral alumni, faculty and administrators of the University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies, the researchers conducted a mixed method study exploring the nature of student success and contributing factors to improving student success for nontraditional students in an online doctoral program. Focusing on completion of a degree and professional advancement as part of the definition for student success, the study offers a student success model that factors in student characteristics, alignment between student and program, and supportive program structure.

The participating alumni's grittiness and personality traits were measured by the Grit scale and Big Five personality scale, and the study found a strong correlation between their grittiness and the quicker speed with which they tended to complete their doctoral programs.

"We had established a modelfor student success at the College in 2017," Kebritchi shares. "This study offered additional insights that inform the revision of that model by including an understanding of the value of student Grit, the value of program-student goal alignment, and the impact of the broader context of a supportive, flexible doctoral program structure. Bringing the components together within a supportive program structure allows for optimal doctoral student success."

Kebritchi is the founder and chair of CEITR, where she supervises more than 300 faculty members, alumni, and students to conduct research in the field of education. Interested in studying innovative ways to improve quality of teaching and learning in K-12, higher education, and corporate settings in online and face-to-face formats, her recent publications address topics such as critical thinking, meditation and higher education, social media and cultural competency, diversity in higher education, promoting STEM in K-12 and higher education, and issues and challenges for teaching successful online courses. Kebritchi has supervised dozens of doctoral students in completing their doctoral dissertations. She completed her doctorate in Instructional Technology at the University of Central Florida.

Kebritchi has been a faculty member with the University of Phoenix since 2010.

McCaslin is University Research Methodologist in the Center for Leadership Studies and Organizational Research (CLSOR) at the College of Doctoral Studies. An academic leader with a lengthy history of teaching, educational programming, and administration, McCaslin earned his doctorate at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Rominger previously served as associate chair of CEITR and is currently a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Montana and the founder of Rominger Counseling, and an Adjunct faculty at the California Institute of Integral Studies serving as a dissertation committee member. He earned his doctorate with Sofia University and completed his master's degree in clinical mental health counseling with Capella University.

The published article is available online at Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice.

About the College of Doctoral Studies

University of Phoenix's College of Doctoral Studies focuses on today's challenging business and organizational needs, from addressing critical social issues to developing solutions to accelerate community building and industry growth. The College's research program puts students in the center of an effective ecosystem of experts, resources and tools to help prepare them to be a leader in their organization, industry and community. Through this program, students and researchers work with organizations to conduct research that can be applied in the workplace in real time.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix is continually innovating to help working adults enhance their careers in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, and Career Services for Life® help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit

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