Ramon Goings, University of Maryland Baltimore County – There’s No Dissertation Like a Done Dissertation

On University of Maryland Baltimore County Week:  Dissertations can be tough to finish.

Ramon Goings, associate professor in the language, literacy, and culture doctoral program, outlines the process to getting students across the finish line.

Dr. Goings’ research interests are centered on exploring the academic and social experiences of gifted/high-achieving Black males PK-PhD, diversifying the teacher and school leader workforce, and investigating the contributions of historically Black colleges and universities. Dr. Goings is the author of over 50 scholarly publications including four books. His scholarship has been featured in leading academic and popular press outlets including: Teachers College Record, Adult Education Quarterly, Gifted Child Quarterly, Inside Higher Ed, Education Week, and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. His most recent research on Black male adult learners won the 2019 Imogene Oaks Award from the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education which honors a scholar whose research contributes significantly to the advancement of adult and continuing education. Along with his scholarship Dr. Goings served as the Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of African American Males in Education from 2017-2020, was named a 2017 Emerging Scholar by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, and received the 2016 College Board Professional Fellowship.

Prior to working in higher education, Goings was a music education and special education teacher in several urban school districts including Baltimore City Public Schools and was a foster care and youth probation counselor/advocate in New Haven, Connecticut. In 2013 he served as a fellow with the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans. He earned his Doctor of Education degree in urban educational leadership from Morgan State University, Master of Science in human services from Post University, and Bachelor of Arts in music education from Lynchburg College (now University of Lynchburg).

There’s No Dissertation Like a Done Dissertation

“There’s no dissertation like a done dissertation.”

This saying is often used as words of encouragement to make writing the dissertation seem straight forward. However, national data tells us that many students struggle. Over 40% of doctoral students who enter a program do not finish with the dissertation process being recognized as a major contributing factor.

The dissertation process often lacks the structure and support that is present during coursework. When combined with barriers like having to work full-time, take care of family, and having limited support from dissertation advisors, finishing the dissertation seems insurmountable.

In my research I sought to unpack the beliefs and skills that propel doctoral students to finish their dissertation in 1 year or less.

What I found can be broken down into what I call the 3P Formula. People + Process = Product

For most doctoral students their entire dissertation journey is focused on the product, which is writing a dissertation that they can successfully defend. While writing is critical, I found that the people and process part of the formula were the keys to success.

When referring to people, dissertation writers must choose their chair and committee wisely. For example, having a renowned professor as your chair may work against you because they don’t have the time to mentor given their busy schedule. Additionally, doctoral students benefit from accountability and reality check partners who ensure they focus on the end goal of finishing their dissertation while also making sure they have a healthy work-life-dissertation integration.

Once doctoral students have the right people in place, understanding the dissertation process is critical. This understanding should include knowing the workflow expectations of their chair and committee, scope of the dissertation proposal and final defense, and institutional policies and politics.

With continued and consistent effort along with mastering the 3P Formula doctoral students can live out the saying by having a done dissertation.

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