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The Role of Intellectual Humility in Dissertation Completion

by Dia Sekayi, Roni Ellington, Benjamin Welsh & Kmt G. Shockley - August 20, 2021

This study examines the narrated perceptions of doctoral students regarding their development as scholars and the impact of that development on the dissertation process. The purpose of this study was to substantiate and add nuance to the Scholar Transformation Theory with empirical data using the following research questions: how do advanced doctoral students narrate their view of themselves in terms of the phases of the Scholar Transformation Theory continuum and where do advanced doctoral students place the locus of control regarding the writing of the dissertation? Individual interview data were collected in 2020 from a sample of doctoral students who completed a Summer Dissertation Intensive. Interviews were conducted with nine individuals who gave informed consent and subsequently scheduled an interview. Hybrid thematic analysis was used to handle the data. The findings suggest alignment between participant self-placement on the Scholar Transformation Theory continuum and locus of control language used in the interview as a precursor to successful movement through the dissertation process. The concept of intellectual humility and its less productive counterpart, intellectual overconfidence/arrogance, captured the implications of the alignment or misalignment between self-placement on the continuum and locus of control language; the former facilitating success and the latter, stagnation.

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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: August 20, 2021
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 23818, Date Accessed: 9/22/2021 10:48:21 AM

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About the Author
  • Dia Sekayi
    Morgan State University
    E-mail Author
    DIA SEKAYI, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the School of Education and Urban Studies at Morgan State University. Her career in education began with teaching mathematics and science to elementary students at an independent, African-centered school in Buffalo, New York. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in the Social Foundations of Education with foci on qualitative research and the sociology of education from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1996. Since then, she has held multiple full-time faculty positions, each with a focus on doctoral education. She has published books, articles, and book chapters, and has made local, national, and international presentations related to the social foundations of education and qualitative research methodology.
  • Roni Ellington
    Morgan State University
    E-mail Author
    RONI ELLINGTON, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in Mathematics education at Morgan State University. Previously, she served as a lecturer in the Department of Mathematics. Dr. Ellington has presented her research findings at a variety of local and national conferences including the American Educational Research Association (AERA) national conference, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) national conference, the University of Maryland Mathematics Education Research Consortium, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics regional conference. Her research interests including understanding the experiences of high achieving mathematics students, STEM education, mathematics curriculum, instruction, and teacher professional development. She teaches a variety of courses in mathematics and science education including mathematics curriculum, concept development in mathematics education, research seminar courses, and mathematics in the high school curriculum.
  • Benjamin Welsh
    Morgan State University
    E-mail Author
    BENJAMIN WELSH, Ph.D., is a faculty member in the Advanced Studies, Leadership, and Policy department at Morgan State University in the spring of 2009. In the department, he has taught and advised extensively across the Urban Education, Higher Education and Community College Leadership doctoral programs, in academic skill-building, foundations, and qualitative research methods. His dissertation focused on the research methods of the early educational researchers who were part of Stanford University's founding faculty. What he uncovered was the racist and sexist ideology that appears to be at the heart of the American public school system. Current research interests include white studies, diversity and inclusion, the history of education, analytic philosophy of education, and the residue left by Eugenic thinking on all levels of education.
  • Kmt G. Shockley
    University of Houston
    E-mail Author
    KMT G. SHOCKLEY, Ph.D., is professor in the University of Houston College of Education, and he is co-executive director of the Ka Institute, which is an organization that does consulting, creates documentary films, and creates educational content. Dr. Shockley has authored numerous articles and five books focused on African American education. His two most recent books are entitled Campus Uprisings published by Teachers College Press (2020), and African Centered Education: Theory & Practice published by Myers Education Press (2020) (African Centered Education: Theory & Practice won the 2021 Society of Professors of Education Outstanding Book Award). In addition to his work as a professor and researcher, he served as a teacher, school leader, keynote lecturer, and he is a board member for the Journal of Negro Education. Dr. Shockley received his PhD from the University of Maryland at College Park. In addition to the University of Houston, he has also been a faculty member at George Mason University, Morgan State University and Howard University.
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