Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Dale M Brethower

Second Advisor

Dr. Bradley Huitema

Third Advisor

Dr. Susan Hannah

Fourth Advisor

Dr. David Lyon


Twenty-three to 54% of the students who enter graduate programs never obtain their degrees. A high percentage of those students drop out after the completion of all the academic requirements except their master's theses or doctoral dissertations. The literature makes reference to the "all but thesis" (ABT) and the "all but dissertation" (ABD) phenomenon.

The present study involved the implementation of a research supervisory system designed to help students complete their theses and dissertations, therefore preventing the ABT and ABD problems. Twenty-nine graduate students in psychology formed the research supervisory group and 53 graduate students from several departments formed a comparison group. Based on a combination of within-subjects and between-group research designs, the data suggest the following conclusions. Generally, in conditions where academic credits depended on research task completion, high performance was generated. However, students who performed under special circumstances, such as extended illness or full-time jobs, did not always obtain that high level. The students in the supervisory system made more progress on their theses and dissertations although they were in their programs for less time than the students in the comparison group. Presumably, this higher rate of progress resulted from the greater amounts of research supervision received by the students in the supervisory system. Four out of five faculty thesis sponsors evaluated more highly the quality of the MA theses from the students in the research supervisory system than from those not in the system. The two sets of master's theses were evaluated as being essentially equal by the Dean of the Graduate College (2.90 for those students in the system and 2.88 for those not in the system, on a 5-point scale). Of course, these evaluations reflect the values of the particular evaluators.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access