Supervision-Related Factors Influencing Doctoral Studies Completion Rates in Education at Public Universities in Kenya
The process of acquiring a doctoral degree is a daunting task to many Kenyan students. Many students take a considerably long time to complete their theses or fail to complete them altogether. The study investigated how factors relating to the supervision process influence completion rates for doctoral studies in Education in Kenya’s public universities. The study adopted a descriptive survey design. It targeted all students registered for various doctoral degree programmes in Education, lecturers and heads of departments in public universities in Kenya. The participants comprised 115(66.09%) lecturers/heads of departments and 388(67.29%) doctoral candidates. Questionnaires, document analysis and interviews were used to collect data. Validity of the research instruments was based on construct and content validity. The reliability of the research instruments was determined by a test-retest method on a pilot study sample. Pearson’s Product Co-efficiency (r) was used to compare the two response categories from the pilot study. The collected data was coded, analysed and presented using descriptive statistics such as frequencies, percentages and the results were presented in form of tables and charts. The study established that about 50% of the teaching staff in public universities in Kenya are tutorial fellows, who by level of their academic qualifications, should not be supervising thesis writing process. This finding was attributed to the fact that Kenya’s public universities lack enough qualified lecturers to supervise students’ research work. Due to the foregoing challenges, majority of the doctoral students fail to complete their thesis writing process within the time stipulated by the universities. The universities’ policy is that a doctoral degree course should take a minimum of three years and a maximum of five. The study found that the average time to degree between 2001 and 2008 was about nine years. However, this duration has gradually reduced to the current six and half years. Completion rates oscillate between 50% and 70%, with female candidates generally having slightly higher completion rates than their male counterparts. Completion rates for candidates registered from 2009 to date are still far below 50%. There was no significant difference in time to degree between male and female candidates.
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