Doctoral students' different types of help-seeking behavior within the academic mentoring experience

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Education, Health & Human Development


Doctoral student attrition is a concerning issue for institutions of higher education and equally impactful on students who want to succeed but are not able to persist. Researchers and educators alike have worked to identify factors that impact student attrition and persistence. This study's framework included the principles of self-determination theory and self-regulation to highlight students' help-seeking behaviors and students' perceptions of the support they received from their chair or mentor. Self-regulation and its many attributes, such as help-seeking, are part of the academic experience that may influence the outcome (help-seeking). The purpose of this correlational study was to explore relationships between academic mentoring, age, and help-seeking behavior among doctoral students who were enrolled in a doctoral program. Participants were 103 doctoral students (53.5% females, 46.5% males) enrolled in PhD, EdD, and DNP programs in a Northwestern, medium-sized, land-grant university. The age of the students varied from 24 to 63 years old. Data were examined by means of correlations and hierarchical regression analyses. The correlational design for this study was inspired by two primary questions: 'Does academic mentoring influence help-seeking behavior in doctoral students?' and 'Does student's age influence help-seeking behavior?' These two questions helped guide the researcher on which statistical techniques to use; in this case bivariate correlations and hierarchical regressions. The results of this correlational study show consistency with previous literature that indicates that chair/mentor relations can produce effects on students' behaviors. The findings suggest that mentors who students perceive to provide technical help and skills needed for research completion, i.e., support in the form of structure, and satisfy the student's need for competence was positively associated with adaptive help-seeking.




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