Individual Characteristics as Predictors of Program Completion of Ph.D. Students in Makerere University
The long time to obtain a Ph.D. degree has been a source of contention (Skopek et al., 2022), and graduate schools worldwide are working to reduce the long time to degree (Geven et al., 2018). This study examined individual characteristics as predictors of program completion of Ph.D. students at Makerere University. Anchoring in Tinto's Model of persistence, individual characteristics included socioeconomic status (SES), quality of relationship with family, studies-family balance, expectations, self-efficacy, grit, writing, and prior experiences. Using a mixed methods approach, both cross-sectional and phenomenological designs were used to collect data from 104 Ph.D. graduates through self-administered questionnaires while seven participants were interviewed. Data was analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics, while qualitative data used thematic analysis. Descriptive statistics involved the calculation of the mean, while inferential analysis involved using a regression model. Thereafter, data was interpreted using a Joint Display Table. The results revealed that individual characteristics, namely SES and prior experiences, positively and significantly predicted program completion. However, the quality of relationship with family, study-family balance, expectations, self-efficacy, grit, and writing did not. Therefore, some of the findings agree with Tinto's Model while others do not, hence recommending that the management of universities should support Ph.D. students considering their differences in individual characteristics based on their SES and prior experiences. However, management should not prioritise the quality of relationship with family, study-family balance, expectations, self-efficacy, grit, and writing
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