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J Dent Educ. 2019 Dec;83(12):1420-1426. doi: 10.21815/JDE.019.156. Epub 2019 Sep 23.

Perceptions of Dental Hygienists About Thesis Completion in Graduate Education.

Author information

1
Christina L. Coruth is a Graduate Student, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, and Office Manager, Hass Dental Associates, Derry, NH; Linda D. Boyd is Associate Dean and Professor, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences; Jessica N. August is Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene, Idaho State University; and Amy N. Smith is Assistant Clinical Professor of Dental Hygiene, Northern Arizona University.
2
Christina L. Coruth is a Graduate Student, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, and Office Manager, Hass Dental Associates, Derry, NH; Linda D. Boyd is Associate Dean and Professor, Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences; Jessica N. August is Assistant Professor of Dental Hygiene, Idaho State University; and Amy N. Smith is Assistant Clinical Professor of Dental Hygiene, Northern Arizona University. linda.boyd@mcphs.edu.

Abstract

Few studies have been published on thesis completion experiences of master's degree students. However, for doctoral students, dissertation completion has been found to be dependent on individual, relational, and institutional factors. The aim of this study was to examine dental hygienists' perceptions of their experiences completing a thesis as a requirement for an advanced degree. A qualitative phenomenological research design was used utilizing virtual focus groups with a national purposive sample of dental hygienists (n=25) who had graduated from a degree program in which a thesis was a requirement for the degree. Data analysis used an inductive approach to identify themes using Liechty et al.'s framework of individual, relational, and institutional factors impacting completion of a dissertation. Liechty et al.'s framework is based on Vygotsky's sociocultural theory of learning. In the results, individual factors identified included family/work responsibilities, lack of understanding of the thesis process, time management, health issues, and reaching personal and professional goals. Relational factors focused primarily on positive and negative experiences with the thesis advisor/committee and support from expert peers/family. Institutional factors included the thesis structure, financial concerns, and challenges in recruiting research participants. This study found many factors influencing the thesis experience that may help guide the process in graduate degree programs. In addition, the findings suggest a need to provide mentoring and support for thesis advisors and committee members to more effectively guide students through the thesis process. Effective modifications of these may improve retention of students and facilitate timely completion of thesis research.

KEYWORDS:

allied dental education; dental hygiene education; dental hygiene programs; dental hygiene students; graduate theses

PMID:
31548304
DOI:
10.21815/JDE.019.156
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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