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PRISCILLA DAWN JOHNSON


Educational Leadership Doctoral Student
Whitlowe R. Green College of Education
Prairie View A&M University

March 2011

WHAT’S EATING PRAIRIE VIEW PANTHERS?


AN EXPLORATORY QUEST FOR HEALING & HELPING OF STRESS AMONG
EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP DOCTORAL STUDENTS

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Acknowledgements

n Theresearcher would like to thank those


students who provided personal insight
about their doctoral experience. Special
thanks to Dr. William A. Kritsonis for
introducing me to the Ways of Knowing
Through the Realms of Meaning philosophy
and Dr. Lisa Hobson for providing statistical
information to complete this study.
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Statement of the Problem

n  Professors
and students state that obtaining a
doctorate degree is a selfish, surprising, and
rewarding experience. Participants did not
foresee the difficulty in pursuing a doctorate.
As students finish their degree, others are
stuck in ABD (all but dissertation). Doctoral
students waddle in stress as their mind and
body becomes affected. Stress is a serious
condition that has the ability to turn an emotion
into physical form.
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Purpose of This Study

n  The
purpose of this exploratory research is to
understand what causes stress in Educational
Leadership (EDUL) Doctoral students at Prairie
View A&M University (PVAMU). The researcher
seeks to find the elixir used to achieve the
sense of healing and inspiration. This study
was conducted to examine whether a larger
scale research is necessary to find causes and
healing for stressors in the lives of doctoral
students. Results show a larger scale study is
appropriate.
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Objectives/Research Questions

What causes stress in the life of a


doctoral student?

What are the fears of doctoral


students?

What are the sources of healing from


stress?
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Theoretical Framework
n  The theoretical realm of Synnoetics is a branch
Synnoetics
from the Ways of Knowing Through the Realms of
Meaning by Dr. William A. Kritsonis. Synnoetics
is a reflection of our personal life and the skills
utilized to master personal knowledge. Our
interactions with others weave the spiritual
sense of significance. Our spirit is the sphere in
which all relations dwell (2007).

Personal
Knowledge

Reflection
of Personal
Life & Skills
Spirituality
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Review of Literature

²  According to WDC, spiritual healing involves improving the


wholeness of a person’s mind, body, and spirit (2011). Our spirit
is a living force. Healing the spirit requires moving it to a
normal state by altering behaviors and mind frames.  

²  Gockel’s 2009 study with 12 participants, who identified


spirituality as a source of healing, found a new coping strategy.
Spiritual coping took place when participants exhibited
“undoing patterns” by reconstructing the meaning of their
problem.

²  Gardner’s 2008 study identified attrition factors among 60


doctoral students. Women left their program due to personal
reasons pertaining to family and marriage. In addition, students
identified poor advising, politics, and preparation for graduate
school as reasons for leaving their doctoral program.
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Review of Literature

²  Flinders University (2008) conducted a study to examine the


effectiveness of their PhD preparation program. They found
that when inhibiting factors such as anxiety, fear of failure,
perfectionism, and procrastination were addressed, students
were more confident about completing their PhD.

²  In a study of 15 fit PhD students, the metabolite


allopregnanolone increased during PhD examinations.
Allopregnanolone can accrue in the brain and become
synthesized as a neurosteriod. This is important because
neurosteriods play a part in nervous system malfunctions
like depression, anxiety, learning, and memory
dysfunctions.
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Methodology

Code of data
for themes
Instrument:
Researcher
Surveyed 28 generated;
students from phone
approximate interviews; 10
Purposeful population of 75
sample of EDUL open-ended
students taking questions
PhD Students EDUL doctoral
in COE classes

Survey Sample:
§  Years in program ranged from 7 months – 2 1/2 years
§  Surveyed males & females
§  Ages ranged from 25-64
§  Two other researchers validated and reviewed this methodology
§  All students verbally agreed to participate in this study
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Major Findings
What’s Eating PVAMU EDUL Doctoral Students?

Sources of
Causes of
Their Fears Healing From
Stress
Stress
Planning
Assignments Their dissertation

Exercise/physical
activity
Balance of work in Comprehensive
classes exams
Religion
Time management
Not doing well or
(family, work, & Family, friends,
not finishing
school) professors
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Major Findings

Ø  Most  students  surveyed  are  pursuing  a  PhD  


because  it  is  a  life  goal,  for  upward  mobility,  or  to  
have  the  creden;als  to  help  others  in  a  greater  
capacity  
Ø  Students  stay  mo;vated  by  fragments  that  
construct  their  mind  frame:  “begin  with  end  in  
mind!”    
+ Conclusions & Recommendations From this Study:
Increase the realm of Synnoetics to increase your spirit of success and
personal knowledge!

INCREASE PERSONAL REFLECTION


Create a routine or Create an action plan
Celebrate your
hobby that relieves to defeat your
accomplishments
stress challenges

INCRESE YOUR SKILLS


Dissertation Seek guidance on
Build time
preparation course, expectations for
managements skills
books, and guides comprehensive exams
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References

n  Droogleever Fortuyn, H. A., van Broekhoven, F., Span, P. N., Bäckström, T., Zitman, F. G., &
Verkes, R. J. (2004). Effects of PhD examination stress on allopregnanolone and cortisol
plasma levels and peripheral benzodiazepine receptor density.
Psychoneuroendocrinology, 29(10), 1341-1344. doi:10.1016/j.psyneuen.2004.02.003
n  Gardner, S. K. (2009). Student and faculty attributions of attrition in high and low-
completing doctoral programs in the united states. Higher Education: The International
Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, 58(1), 97-112.
n  Gockel, A. (2009). Spirituality and the process of healing: A narrative study. International
Journal for the Psychology of Religion, 19(4), 217-230. doi:10.1080/10508610903143248
n  Kearns, H., Gardiner, M., & Marshall, K. (2008). Innovation in PhD completion: the hardy
shall succeed (and be happy!). Higher Education Research & Development, 27(1), 77-89.
doi:10.1080/07294360701658781
n  Kritsonis, W. A. (2007). Ways of knowing through the realms of meaning. Houston, TX:
National Forum Journals.
n  WDC. (2011, n.d.). Re: Wellness destinations central: Take the journey [Web log
message]. Retrieved from http://www.wellnessdestinationscentral.com/about/therapy-
glossary/