Doctoral Writing Self-Efficacy Throughout the Dissertation Process

EdD Learning and Organizational Change Research

Scholarship on doctoral education consistently identifies the dissertation writing process as one of the most critical areas of inquiry for those seeking to maximize completion rates within the desired time-to-completion projections (e.g., Boote & Beile, 2005; Lavelle & Bushrow, 2007; Ondrusek, 2012; Spaulding & Rockinson-Szapkiw, 2012). Parallel to this scholarly trajectory of doctoral writing, many scholars have identified academic self-efficacy as a positive mediating factor that correlates with positive academic outcomes, even in the midst of complications and barriers  (e.g., Caprara et al., 2008; Eakman et al., 2019; Fokkens-Bruinsma et al., 2021; D. H. Schunk & DiBenedetto, 2016; D. H. Schunk & Pajares, 2002). Scholars of writing instruction, therefore, have logically applied these implications to writing development, noting that perceived writing self-efficacy often serves as a mediating factor that can help students achieve positive writing outcomes despite potential obstacles. While such inquiries have yielded implications for the study of writing development, they tend to focus on students early in their academic journeys, such as college composition students (e.g., Lane et al., 2003; Prat-Sala & Redford, 2012; Wachholz & Etheridge, 1996; Woodrow, 2011) or students writing in a second language (e.g., Abdel Latif, 2015; Arroyo González et al., 2021; Han & Hiver, 2018; Lee & Evans, 2019; Ruegg, 2018; Sun et al., 2021; Sun & Wang, 2020; Teng et al., 2018, 2020; Tsao, 2021; Zabihi, 2018). Despite the potential that self-efficacy theory has to contribute to the scholarly understanding of the dissertation writing process, comparatively few studies have focused specifically on writing self-efficacy at the doctoral level (e.g., Dupont et al., 2013; Hines, 2011; Varney, 2010). Given how costly doctoral student attrition is to both the student and the department (Garcia, 1987; Pritchard, 2018; Santicola, 2013) as well as the potential of writing self-efficacy to serve as a positive mediating factor for doctoral students writing their dissertations, this convergent mixed methods study explores changes in writing self-efficacy and writing apprehension doctoral students working on their dissertation.

Research Team

Corina Kaul



Nicholas R. Werse



Leanne Howell



Brenda Davis



Lacy Papadakis



Jess Smith



Laila Sanguras



Ryann Shelton



Jessica Meehan





Baylor University ONE-URC Research Grant

International Writing Centers Association 2022 Research Grant

Baylor University Teaching Exploration Grant