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Doctoral Development Plan

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Doctoral Development Plan

Nathaniel Coakley

Capella University



Taking the step to obtaining a doctoral degree can be viewed as a challenge to many doctoral learners or it can be viewed as a journey. In this paper I will discuss the steps that I will take to assist me in completing my doctoral journey and earning my PhD. In order to complete this journey I have created a doctoral action plan. I will break-down and discuss the doctoral action plan in to six categories; coursework, comprehensive examination, teaching/researching assistance, dissertation, dissertation defense, and time management. The doctoral action plan is more than a schedule. It is an instrument designed to help a doctoral student to keep on track over a very lengthy and complex program.


The journey begins with taking the necessary coursework. The process for all schools varies in styles and what courses that is required. Before deciding on enrolling into my current program I researched several different intuitions to find what program best suit my desires and schedule. The process to enroll in a program of my choice was seamless and without any obstacles. My institution has an academic plan that is design to provide me with the necessary tools for writing my dissertation (Capella, 2011). Along with completing the necessary course work is required that you attend doctoral seminars throughout the doctoral journey. My institution refers to it as the PhD Colloquium Experience. At colloquia, I will have the opportunity to interact with faculty and my peers on a new level putting course-room theory into practice and connecting on a personal and scholarly basis (Residencies, 2011).

After speaking with past doctoral students, I have determined that it is very important to decide on my dissertation topic early in the doctoral process. As part of this process I must have dissertation chairperson. Therefore, while I am completing the necessary coursework for my program I can begin discussing my dissertation topic with my dissertation chair. I will cover more about the dissertation chairperson later in this paper.

Comprehensive Examination

Before taking the comprehensive exam I will take several steps in preparing for it. According to the Capella website, the purpose of the comprehensive examination is to provide learners with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to integrate and synthesize the competencies in the theoretical, research, and best practice literature in their specializations. Knowing that the examination is after the completion of my required coursework I will not wait until the end to start preparing for it. I will use my coursework as the first tool help prepare for the comprehensive examination. When completing my assignments I will write projects that will support my dissertation topic and research. The second tool I will use is RefWorks, which is accessible through the Capella Library Home Page. By using RefWorks I can organize and collect citations that I can format into APA-style bibliography for the examination. The tool I will use a Scholarly Research Log. I will this tool to capture and record relevant information about author names, titles, articles, and chapters that I will read throughout my coursework. And the forth tool I will use to prepare for the comprehensive exam is maintain a folder on my computer's desktop where I store all my projects and assignment that I complete throughout the coursework. I only named the four primary tools I will use to prepare for the comprehensive exam. However, it is not limited to the four tools that I listed above. In order to really prepare for the comprehensive exam, I must have a clear understanding of the purpose for the comprehensive exam. According to the Comprehensive Examination Manual (2011), the purpose of the examination is to provide learners with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to integrate and synthesize the competencies in the theoretical, research, and best practice literature in their specialization. The examination consists of written responses to a set of three questions and a conference call to discuss and further explore those answers with the Comprehensive Examination Facilitator/Mentor (Capella, 2011).

The answering of the question allows me the learner to display my ability of critical thinking, analyzing, synthesizing, evaluating, and applying theoretical constructs and research findings to professional practice (Capella, 2011). There is a time limit associated with the answering of the examination questions. The learner will have 28 calendar days to submit his response to all three calendar questions. The response will be submitted using a third-party citation-detection service by the name of SafeAssign. The university uses this service to pre-screen examination response to deter plagiarism. This is a great for the learner as it allows him the opportunity to have his responses screen prior to submission. Therefore, the learner should allow 24-48 hours prior to turn-in suspense date to have



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