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The purpose of this study was to provide a better understanding of doctoral studies persistence and completion by developing and validating a predictive model of dropout intentions. Based on self-determination theory (SDT), the model posits that perceived competence decreases dropout intentions, and that perceived competence is explained by autonomous and controlled regulations, which are in turn predicted by perceived psychological needs support provided by the student's advisor, faculties as well as other graduate students. A two-pronged approach was used: 1) a retrospective comparison of completers and noncompleters (N = 422), and 2) a prospective examination of enrolled PhD students over two trimesters to assess dropout intentions (N = 1060). Overall, the findings of the two studies are similar and support the proposed model. Specifically, perceived competence appears to be the cornerstone of doctoral studies persistence (completion and dropout intentions) and is predicted mainly by autonomous and controlled regulations and advisor support. Both perceived support by advisor and by faculty have an indirect effect on dropout intentions through motivational processes.


Institute for Positive Psychology and Education

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Journal Article

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