Date of Conferral







Anthony Perry


Many graduate students (60%) do not complete their program of study. It is important for

universities to find ways to increase student completion rate. The general problem is that

online U.S. universities are faced with a high rate of PhD student drop out resulting in an

increased number of students not being able to complete their doctoral studies. The

purpose of this multiple linear regression study was to identify predictor variables of

dissertation student stress and overall dissertation satisfaction. Deci and Ryan's self

determination theory and Lazarus' theory of cognitive appraisal were used to guide this

research to identify how student perception of mentor communication styles can be used

to predict how students appraise stress and overall satisfaction with dissertation. A

convenience sample of 178 dissertation students identified through several online

dissertation student support and student-led Facebook groups completed the online

survey. According to study results, student perception of questioning and preciseness as

mentor communication styles predicted significantly lower scores of student appraisal of

stress experienced in dissertation. However, student perception of verbal aggressiveness

as a mentor communication style predicted significantly higher scores of student stress.

Mentor behaviors of academic assistance, mentoring abilities, and personal connection

predicted significantly higher levels of overall student dissertation satisfaction. Positive

social change initiatives formed by faculty and staff can be made to educate dissertation

chairpersons about the communication style and behaviors that are the most effective in

mentoring dissertation students.

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