Doctoral Students Living, Leading, and Learning During a Pandemic

  • Debra Bukko California State University, Stanislaus
  • Jaskaran Dhesi California State University, Stanislaus
Keywords: education doctorate, transformative learning, self-authorship, mentoring, cohort


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to understand the impact of COVID-19 on doctoral students’ personal, professional, and academic roles and factors contributing to their persistence during the pandemic.

Research Methods: The researchers engaged in qualitative research at a California State University CPED-inspired Ed.D. program, using semi-structured interviews, document analysis and a focus group. Data were analyzed through the CPED mentoring and advising framework, transformative learning theory, and self-authorship theory.

Results: Three themes emerged: a convergence of roles within home and virtual spaces, leading in a complex and uncertain time, and caring relationships encourage persistence.

Implications: Participants experienced increased self-awareness and development of cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal dimensions of self. Relationships between cohort members and with faculty were integral to student persistence during a time of significant change and uncertainty. Recommendations for practice within Ed.D. programs and for future research are offered.

Author Biographies

Debra Bukko, California State University, Stanislaus
Debra Bukko enjoyed a 30-year career as a K-12 teacher, school, and district administrator. She currently serves as Associate Professor and Director of the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership at California State University, Stanislaus.
Jaskaran Dhesi, California State University, Stanislaus
Jaskaran Dhesi is a second year doctoral student. An advocate for first generation students, mental health, and civic engagement, Jaskaran draws on experiences as a first generation student who completed a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. He currently serves as an Employer Engagement Coordinator in Career Services at CSU Stanislaus.


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How to Cite
Bukko, D., & Dhesi, J. (2021). Doctoral Students Living, Leading, and Learning During a Pandemic. Impacting Education: Journal on Transforming Professional Practice, 6(2), 25–33.