Date of Award

Spring 2021

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Todd A. DeMitchell

Second Advisor

Andrew Coppens

Third Advisor

Jessica Bolker


It has been asserted that communication skills play a critical role in success in a job (What is technical writing?, n.d.). Traditional graduate training prepares students for communication within their field of study; however, it often fails to provide skill development opportunities needed for addressing more general audiences (Coleman, 2018). This research focuses on broadly-based oral and written communication programs which help graduate students to learn to write and orally communicate more effectively to different audiences for different purposes, in and outside of academia, enabling them to explain clearly what they do and why it matters.Using archival analysis and interviews, the study examines the structure of existing broadly-based communication support programs, and doctoral student and graduate school leaders’ perspectives on these programs and their relation to career preparation. It specifically focuses on doctoral students because of their extended study and close working relationship, mentoring relationship with faculty members, and the focused communications designed to fit within the expectations of academia. The findings from the studies indicate that broadly-based communication support programs play an important role not only in doctoral students’ career diversification, but even more so in succeeding in graduate school, especially in dissertation writing, and in providing support for the development of a broad set of skills necessary for holistic education. One of the findings that surfaced from all three studies relates to the approach of how the support is offered. The findings point to the need for more systematic and continuous support.

ReferencesColeman, M.S. (2018, June 4). The three Vs of Graduate Education [newsletter issued by mary Sue’s desk]. Retrieved from What is technical writing ? (n.d.). Introduction to technical writing. Retrieved from