The Doctoral Mentoring Relationship: The Phenomenology of Scholarly Leadership
Much has been written in academia about the significant relationship between doctoral students and their respective dissertation chairs. However, an often-overlooked benefit of the dissertation research process as a whole is its potential to professionally and personally transform the capacities of all concerned – the doctoral candidate, mentor/major professor, and committee. From the exclusive perspective of the doctoral Chair/mentor, this study explores the potentially transformative power of the dissertation process as it relates to scholarly leadership. In order to most accurately address the study’s research questions and to best capture the lived experiences of 4 purposefully selected doctoral chairs, each with varying degrees of dissertation guidance experience, this qualitative study was purposely designed to leverage the phenomenological process. Data was collected through a series of both in-person and phone interviews (each co-researcher was interviewed 3 times) and subsequently coded to determine emerging themes and categories relative to the co-researcher’s lived experiences as doctoral mentors. Findings support and contribute to the recent literature in global higher education, calling for increased understanding of and accountability within the entire dissertation journey. Such will further inform and enhance current best practices of doctoral mentoring. As a rich experiential education and learning opportunity, the essence of scholarly leadership features four essential elements: acting with authenticity, facilitating growth or change, holding vision, and acknowledging deficiency. Practitioners of doctoral education, at the dissertation Chair/mentor level, as well as institutionally, would greatly benefit by valuing the results of this study, and leveraging such to enhance the quality of the overall doctoral experience. The study’s findings also have the potential to positively actualize the lives of doctoral mentors/major professors in their roles as educators, scholars, and life-long learners. Further guided research is necessary to determine correlations between scholarly research and each of its attendant essential elements: authenticity, facilitative behavior, vision, and deficiency.
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