Facilitating dissertation completion and success among doctoral students in social work

Janet M. Liechty, Minli Liao, Christine Pegorraro Schull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Social work doctoral education is essential to the continuation of the profession through its production of educators and researchers. Predicted shortages of educators give urgency to the problems of dissertation delays, lengthy time to completion, and attrition. Using Vygotsky's sociocultural theory of learning, in this article we review the literature on barriers and facilitating factors to dissertation completion. Findings support the relevance of postulated mechanisms of learning such as scaffolding and interaction with more knowledgeable others. Findings also suggest that interventions are necessary at individual, relational, and institutional/departmental levels, and that individual success is contingent upon relational and systemic factors as well as aptitude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-497
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social Work Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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