March 8, 2022
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The purpose of the assignment is to demonstrate your working knowledge of APA format by writing a paper.

The doctoral Learning process is uniquely autonomous. It is important to develop individual plans for success and use personal strategies to reach your goals.

Strategies for Doctoral Education
Doctoral studies are one of the most difficult yet rewarding endeavors. An individual must develop an awareness of possible experiences while pursuing a doctorate, as doctoral learning is self-directed. The implication is that an individual must develop plans for success and employ customized strategies to accomplish set goals (Hill et al., 2020). Additionally, the learning strategies and skills required to complete a doctoral program are quite distinct from those required for other types of learning. As a result, this current contribution discusses expected learning experiences during a doctoral learning program, the strategies and learning skills required to successfully complete a doctoral program, and a literature review on successful strategies in doctoral programs.
Prior to Obtaining a Doctorate, Obtaining a Prior to Obtaining a Doctorate,

Prior to their doctoral learning experiences, students may encounter other events that will have a significant impact on them once their doctoral program begins. It is critical to recognize that experiences can be as diverse as the number of routes to doctoral studies. For example, while some students enter doctoral programs with a master’s degree, others enter with a baccalaureate degree. Prior learning experiences include focusing on developing evidence-based practice application skills in healthcare settings and addressing potential barriers to successful evidence-based practice implementation in a particular healthcare setting (Armstrong et al., 2017). Participation in professional communities and national, regional, or local healthcare organizations is another possible experience. As previously stated, prior to pursuing a doctorate, an individual’s learning experiences may vary depending on his or her career path and type of practice.




Doctoral Education and Its Autonomous Character

Unlike other levels of education, doctoral education is unique in that students are more self-sufficient and are expected to direct their own activities throughout the program in order to generate new knowledge. Doctoral students are expected to be self-directed thinkers and to engage in scholarly work as they investigate a variety of issues within their fields of study. Because doctoral studies are autonomous, self-education enables students to progress and advance in their research projects and scholarly work (Skakni, 2018). Despite the expectation of independence, a doctoral student requires assistance from both fellow students and supervisors. This assistance enables them to exchange ideas and improve their study paths and research. Coordination between doctoral students ensures that students share critical learning resources necessary for program completion. The implication is that, despite its autonomous nature, collaboration and connections are critical for self-expression and social interaction during a doctoral program.

Doctoral Learning Strategies and Competencies

There are numerous skills and strategies that an individual can employ in order to achieve successful doctoral learning. As embarking on a doctoral program may mean less time with family and friends, one strategy is to initiate communication with family and friends, as well as the support system. Proactively communicating with family and friends about the program’s expectations and requirements helps one become more focused on the program and thus achieves a healthy study, family, and work-life balance. The following strategy is to make advance plans and schedules for completing course work, meeting with the supervisor, and beginning research work, among other things (Stanfill et al., 2019). While planning is critical, it may not be effective if the student does not combine it with time management. As a result, time management is also critical.


Webinar on the Importance of Orientation

Orientation is critical to the success of any new program. As such, the webinar is critical in clarifying the fundamental elements of the doctor of nursing program, each of its requirements, and the desired outcomes. The webinar is critical in assisting students in concentrating on their doctoral research through the application of leadership, economic, organizational, and clinical skills. Additionally, the student can create necessary write-ups, such as those for the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s core competencies. Additionally, by participating in the webinar, the student gains knowledge about a variety of critical issues, including identifying a clinical problem that should be addressed using an evidence-based approach, utilizing Typhon, and selecting an appropriate mentor. As a result, the webinar is critical in providing a concise overview of the DNP program and what is expected of students who successfully complete the program.

A Review of the Literature on Success Strategies in Doctoral Programs

Due to the critical nature of doctoral programs in preparing knowledgeable professionals capable of conducting effective research and enhancing patient care, numerous researchers have contributed to the subject over the years. Because successful completion of the program is both rewarding and critical, this section discusses several strategies for success in doctoral programs. Creech et al. (2018) examined admission factors that predict success or failure in a doctor of nursing program in one of the most recent contributions on strategies for successful completion of doctoral studies. The group was able to examine data for a five-year admission and retention period through a retrospective study (Creech et al., 2018). Among the findings in this article is that demographic information, the average recommendation letter score, the admission essay score, and grade point average all had an effect on a student’s success in the DNP program. Students with higher GPAs had a better or greater chance of successfully completing the program and on time, whereas those with advancing ages had a lower chance of successfully completing the program (Creech et al., 2018).

Stanfil et al. (2019) argue that enrollment in doctoral nursing programs has decreased in recent years. As a result, it is necessary to investigate strategies for increasing admission and assisting students in completing the program (Stanfill et al., 2019). According to these researchers, one strategy for ensuring successful completion of a doctoral program is through supportive mentors, who are critical in offering assistance and guidance in obtaining scholarship support and other funding sources. Additionally, they state that ongoing funding, face-to-face and online training, and conference support are necessary for a program’s success (Stanfill et al., 2019). Additionally, they note that the support and understanding of friends and family members are critical in assisting individuals in successfully completing the program. Additionally, the article discusses strategies such as sharing ideas and knowledge and developing strategic plans that include self-care activities and time management (Stanfill et al., 2019).

Armstrong et al. (2017) also discussed several strategies for graduate school success. Several of the techniques discussed by this group of researchers include peer-to-peer mentoring, cultivating new collegial relationships, embracing scholarly communication, maintaining discipline, and appreciating academic literature. Additionally, they emphasize the critical nature of work-life balance and stress management (Armstrong et al., 2017). Volkert et al. (2018) conducted another study in which they examined how the effects of environmental stressors predict a student’s intention to withdraw from a DNP or Ph.D. program. Additionally, this group discussed several strategies for successful completion, including the importance of family and friends encouraging the student throughout the program, the importance of understanding the requirements of the doctoral program, and the importance of providing support in the form of financial, errands, chores, and child support (Volkert et al., 2018). Additionally, Ellenbecker and the group emphasize the importance of time management, particularly for those who must work while completing a doctoral program. They argue that reducing work hours is critical to reserving time for doctoral studies (Ellenbecker et al., 2017).


Beginning a doctoral study requires careful planning and time management, as the autonomous nature of the program requires students to be more self-sufficient. A doctoral student must employ effective strategies that will assist them in completing the program once they have begun. The article discussed several successful completion strategies and conducted a comprehensive literature review.

General Requirements:

  • Review the APA Quiz questions prior to beginning work on your paper.
  • When writing this paper ensure you are speaking from a formal standpoint and are not using I-statements.
  • Doctoral learners are required to use APA style for their writing assignments. The APA Style Guide is located in the Student Success Center.
  • This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.
  • You are required to submit this assignment to Turnitin. Please refer to the directions in the Student Success Center.


In 750-1,000 words, construct a paper that addresses the following.

  1. Discuss learning experiences one may face prior to the doctoral learning experience. Support your discussion with scholarly evidence.
  2. Research the autonomous nature of doctoral learning. Discuss how doctoral programs and learning skills and strategies employed when completing them is different than other learning experience.
  3.  Conduct a literature review of five scholarly articles related to strategies for success in doctoral programs.
  4. Based upon your research discuss specific strategies you recommend when developing a plan for successful completion of a doctoral program.


Doctoral studies are about learning to create new knowledge and to become a researcher. Yet surprisingly little is
known about the individual learning patterns of doctoral students. The study aims to explore learning patterns among
natural science doctoral students. The participants included 19 doctoral students from a top-level natural science
research community. The data were collected through interviews and qualitatively content analysed. Five
qualitatively different learning patterns were identified: 1) active knowledge creator, 2) active producer, 3) active
project manager, 4) passive producer and 5) conformist. The patterns differed from each other in how the participants
approached their learning regarding conducting research and becoming a researcher, learning strategies and their
perceptions of learning objects. This indicates that learning environments need to be adjustable to different doctoral
student learning patterns. At best, by designing practices in congruence with doctoral students’ ways of learning,
scholarly communities can provide flourishing environments in which doctoral students are able to become
autonomous scientists who conduct high quality research. To our knowledge, doctoral students’ learning patterns
have not been previously reported in doctoral education literature. This study contributed to the literature on doctoral
student learning and provided new insight into the complexity of learning processes among natural science doctoral
students by identifying five qualitative different learning patterns.
Keywords: Doctoral student, Qualitative research, Learning pattern, Natural science, Postgraduate education.


1. Introduction
Learning is at the core of doctoral studies (Brew, Boud, & Namgung, 2011; Pyhältö, Nummenmaa, Soini, Stubb, &
Lonka, 2012). Doctoral studies entail learning about research and making an original contribution to knowledge
(Delamont & Atkinson, 2001; Lovitts, 2005; Saunders, 2009). They are also about learning to become a researcher
(McAlpine & Amundsen, 2009; McAlpine, Jazvac-Martek, & Hopwood, 2009; Pyhältö et al., 2012; Sweitzer, 2009)
and to engage in a scholarly community (Austin, 2002; Gardner, 2007; McAlpine & Norton, 2006; Pyhältö, Stubb, &
Lonka, 2009; White & Nonnamaker, 2008). Doctoral journeys are suggested to vary in terms of their unique
individual characteristics (McAlpine et al., 2009; Lovitts, 2001; Vekkaila, Pyhältö, & Lonka, 2013a, b). Lahenius and
Martinsuo (2011), for instance, identified three different types of doctoral journeys among doctoral students in
industrial engineering and management: the students’ orientations towards their doctoral studies differed in their
goals, resources and level of progress. Moreover, Terrell (2002) found that doctoral students majoring in educational
technology typically employed two learning styles in a web-based learning environment: the converger and the
assimilative, which both entailed a high level of abstract conceptualization. The findings, despite of lacking focus on
doctoral student learning, imply that doctoral students’ learning patterns may differ.
Prior research on higher education student learning has focused heavily on undergraduate students (Vermunt, 2005;
Vermunt & Vermetten, 2004). As a result, we still know surprisingly little on doctoral students’ learning. Therefore, a
better understanding is needed of doctoral students’ learning during their doctoral process. The aim of this study is to
explore what learning patterns can be identified among natural science doctoral students. International Journal of Higher Education Vol. 5, No. 2; 2016
Published by Sciedu Press 223 ISSN 1927-6044 E-ISSN 1927-6052

2. Theoretical Framework
The learning pattern refers to the activities that the student employs in learning, including cognitive strategies,
metacognitive regulation, conceptions of learning and approaches to learning (Vermunt, 2005; Vermunt & Vermetten,
2004). Accordingly, doctoral students’ learning patterns encompass activities that they employ in learning to conduct
research and to become a researcher. This includes their situated approach to learning and their perceptions of
learning objects.

Previous studies on higher education student learning have identified various approaches that undergraduate students
apply in learning and studying (Entwistle & McCune, 2004; Lonka, Olkinuora, & Mäkinen, 2004). Approaches to
learning include learning strategies and the motivation to learn and study (Biggs, 1978; Entwistle & McCune, 2004).
A deep approach to learning that focuses on understanding ideas and the meaning of the learning contents and a
surface approach which is characterized by the management of the learning contents and their reproduction have
frequently been identified in prior studies on undergraduates (e.g., Lonka et al., 2004). In addition, a strategic
approach referring to the organization and monitoring of studying activities has been reported (Entwistle & McCune,
2004; Entwistle & Peterson, 2004; Lonka et al., 2004). Yet these studies have focused almost solely on Bachelor’s
and Master’s degree students.

Doctoral students’ approaches to learning may also vary. Doctoral students have, for instance, been shown to focus
on gaining an in-depth understanding of their research topics (Vekkaila, Pyhältö, Hakkarainen, Keskinen, & Lonka,
2012; Wisker, Robinson, Trafford, Creighton, & Warnes, 2003), and frustrating experiences of failing to master
certain research areas or techniques have been reported (Delamont & Atkinson, 2001; Pole, 2000).
The strategies that students apply to learning are the central determinants for successful learning (Lonka et al., 2004;
Vermunt, 2005). It has been suggested that the degree to which students are able to regulate their learning i.e., are
metacognitively, motivationally, affectively, and behaviourally active participants in their own learning process
affects the quality of their learning process and achievements (Pintrich, 2004; Puustinen & Pulkkinen, 2001;
Zimmerman, 2008). Self-regulative learning involves student’s goal setting and personal initiatives, selection and
development of learning strategies, and self-monitoring of learning activities as well as evaluation of the learning
process (e.g., Pintrich, 2004; Puustinen & Pulkkinen, 2001).

For instance, the perceived degree of academic
involvement predicts doctoral students’ educational outcomes: students that value their involvement more have
higher levels of satisfaction with doctoral education and increased perceptions of self-efficacy to conduct scholarly
work (Anderson, Cutright, & Anderson, 2013). Moreover, doctoral students associate active involvement in training
with attaining good quality professional development and relationships within scholarly communities (Gardner &
Barnes, 2007). On the other hand, doctoral students who perceive themselves as passive objects within their
scholarly community report lower levels of interest towards doctoral studies and have more often considered
interrupting their studies than students who are active agents in their communities.


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