McChesney et al. Study on Doctoral Research by Distance

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by Jonathan Whatley, Sep 6, 2023.

  1. jonlevy

    jonlevy Active Member

    I base it on being an instructor and a SME for dozens (if not a hundred) graduate courses exclusively online in Legal Studies and Political Science since 2006 and as a MA thesis advisor I won't name the 5 schools but they are well known here. I have an earned PhD in my field from state U and a correspondence JD and multiple bar memberships. I have been involved with distance learning since 1999 and used to be an editor for Trivantis which at one time was a LMS provider. I am a long timeproponent of distance learning but I have to say in matters of PhDs, the distance learning model is on the short end of the stick and hiring committees know it though one may be able to sneak a UNISA or Leyden DL PhD by them.
    RoscoeB likes this.
  2. wmcdonald

    wmcdonald Active Member

    It's folks like that lady that has caused Higher Ed to suffer today! One of us? Good grief!
    There are more and more of us who haven't had to explain! And more to follow!
    Suss likes this.
  3. wmcdonald

    wmcdonald Active Member

    You make a valid point. Most committees will tend to hire a traditional PhD than nontraditional, but there are more and more exceptions, and growing!
  4. nosborne48

    nosborne48 Well-Known Member

    And that is a good thing wmcdonald.
  5. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    This is a lot of words that don't actually provide any basis for your opinion that a distance learning PhD is inferior to one delivered face to face. Tenure is based most strongly on research output[1][2], not coursework. Your experience teaching a lot of non-PhD students doesn't add anything material to the discussion at hand, any more than my having been a Professor for online master's students does.

    If the argument were that doing a PhD by distance limits the opportunity for the intensive research activity needed to be competitive for a TT position, that would be one thing (and I would agree with that.) I would counter that most people pursuing an online PhD are aware that they are not spending as much time churning out papers during their PhD or they would seek out an in-person, FT program to do that.

    Instead you've thrown out a mishmash of arguments about office politics and ChatGPT on discussion boards that seem totally unconnected to the criteria academic hiring committees use to judge candidates.
  6. jonlevy

    jonlevy Active Member

    A traditional PhD in the social sciences and humanities can take 4-6 years, there is a lot of social and professional interaction involved. Online cuts out all of that. Very unlikely the online student will be conducting in person research as a research assistant or working as a teaching assistant. Nor is it likely they will be a co-author on a published paper or book chapter. They also miss out on grants.

    Instructing graduate courses online for 17 years does indeed give me a good idea of the range of activities my students engage in. It is not the same experience they would get in a traditional graduate program. Discussion boards which are now chat GPT magnets are the main source of interaction available to students. It is not inferior, it is just different in a not so good way.

    Yes, the degrees are still earned but the academic experience cannot be the same. Tenure is based on politics and getting a tenure track job depends on mirroring the hiring committee's bias which will be mainly if not exclusively be traditional PhDs.

    I would not advise anyone in the humanities or social sciences to get an online PhD if they expect to have a productive career in academia.
  7. Rich Douglas

    Rich Douglas Well-Known Member

    Why would anyone react like this? She was being candid and helpful. And, IMHO, accurate.
    Jonathan Whatley likes this.
  8. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    We do agree on this. Nobody should seek out an online PhD (in any discipline, but especially humanities and the social sciences) with the goal of getting a TT position.
    Rich Douglas likes this.
  9. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    Dr. Narketta Sparkman-Key is probably the most outstanding distance learning Ph.D. (Capella) holder I have come across. I shared a long time ago when she was a tenured associate professor at Old Dominion University (R1 university). She is now a tenured (full) professor and vice provost at James Madison University (R2).
    Suss, RoscoeB and MaceWindu like this.

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