A Long Time Coming: Student-Student Relationships Dissertation Research

I finished my dissertation in 2016, titled the Student Experience of Other Students. I tried that summer to develop the dissertation into an article. The Qualitative Report allows articles of 40 pages, so I was cutting the 260-some odd pages bit by bit. I was informed by more experienced writers that what I was doing was impossible, so I followed the model that I had seen before, which was to take a slice of the findings and build an article around the slice. So that’s what I did, but I also started working on my book. I found time to submit the manuscript focused on student-student relationships (in a graduate seminar) in 2017. I submitted to Adult Education Quarterly, the top journal in the field of adult education. I was surprised to be asked to revise and resubmit. I did that, twice, and on the second attempt it was rejected. That was this spring.

So I submitted it to The Journal of Transformative Education, which is a lower-tier journal than Adult Ed Quarterly. They accepted it without revision. The editor remarked that it was incredibly rare for a manuscript to be accepted “without revision.” Ha! I had revised it a bazillion times.

Anyway, I’m very happy the dissertation slice is finally published. In that journal, I guess that at least 100 or so people will at least read the abstract. 🙂 Really I have no idea.

I’m proud of this accomplishment and owe thanks to many people: my mother, who read the final manuscript more than once; my family; my dissertation committee: Kathy Greenberg, Barbara Thayer-Bacon, Sandra Thomas, and Jeanne Logan; and members of my research group: Lauren Moret, for a key idea of the final results of the dissertation, Kristina Plaas, Karen Franklin, and Tiffany Dellard.

The article describes the ways in which student-student relationships changed over the course of a semester in a class taught using a phenomenological approach. The professor and the course are the topic of the book my colleagues and I published in 2019. The students began the course seeing the diversity of their classmates in a superficial way. Their awareness of the differences (and similarities) deepened over time as they saw how backgrounds and other experiences affected perception. Finally, a semester of listening to each other’s stories spurred deep changes in the way they oriented to others and difference in general. For example, one third of course participants attributed their ability to listen to others in the face of disagreement to the other students in the course.

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