Keeping the Research Thesis on Course: Case of Kenyatta University Doctoral Students Experiences during the COVID 19 Pandemic
Keywords:Completion, Doctoral Studies, Experiences, Pandemic, Supervision, Tutorials, Research progress
Completion of doctoral studies is the apex of academic accomplishment. Postgraduate studies, particularly in Africa have been dogged with a myriad of issues that derail the process, thus hampering completion rates. However, among the many issues that affect the doctoral students’ completion, it’s not yet largely evidenced the extent to which the COVID 19 pandemic affected the doctoral students thesis writing, despite the fact that the pandemic had other far reaching ramifications on higher education with many universities having to shut down albeit temporarily. The objective of the study was to establish doctoral students’ research thesis progress and experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic period. The study utilized descriptive survey design with an online survey being used to collect data. The sample comprised ninety-one PhD students from the Department of Education Management, Policy and Curriculum Studies, School of Education, Kenyatta University. Quantitative data was analyzed using descriptive statistics while thematic analysis was used to analyze qualitative data. The study established that the majority of the students 57% had made some progress in their doctoral studies thesis writing during the pandemic period through online engagement with faculty and from insights gained in the interactive research-related webinars organized by the department. Additionally, students indicated that they experienced work related (36.2%) and institutional (29.8%) challenges. However, the majority indicated that their greatest need of support to enhance progress in their thesis work is improvement in receipt of prompt feedback from supervisors and capacity building on research methodology. The study recommends adoption of blended supervision, tutorial doctoral sessions for guidance and psychosocial support structures to enhance progress in doctoral studies.