Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Linda Spatig

Second Advisor

Ronald Childress

Third Advisor

Eric Lassiter


Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) is a female-dominated discipline in danger of losing its professional autonomy. In 2002, the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (ASHA) reported that 6-7% of all faculty positions in CSD were vacant, predicted a substantial increase in vacancies through 2012, and declared the issue of faculty preparation as the "most significant threat to our [CSD] future" (p. 5). In 2008, ASHA reported that, although more people were receiving Ph.D. degrees, only half accepted positions in higher education. The purpose of this study was to extend understanding of the problem of too few researchers in CSD by increasing understanding of the experiences of women in CSD who did become researchers. Informed by the ideas of Dewey (1916) that describe learning as a process of exploring the meaning of experiences through stories, examples, and conversations, this narrative study is based on the narratives of four women researchers in CSD. All of these women provided their oral histories, or narratives, in a series of three interviews. I analyzed their narratives to discover what motivated them to become researchers, what enabled and constrained them in the process, and what role schooling had in that process. Data analysis included the identification of individual stories embedded within these narratives, the coding of the narratives based on the research questions, and the identification of narrative themes. Using the cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), I interpreted their experiences within the context of practice, which can be understood as the interaction of subjects (participants), objects (participant goals), and four other variables: tools or resources, community support, roles played by participants, and the rules of scholarly communities. Motivating factors included the participants' desires to learn, fulfill responsibilities to clients and students, and to improve their credentials. Up to their doctoral education, tools and positive community support were the primary factors enabling their emerging research identities. Sustaining identity development in their careers presented greater challenges, or constraints, such as insufficient resources and limited community support. Schooling was both a positive and negative influence on the development of their research identities. Implications of the findings are that manipulation of practice variables may increase motivation, enabling factors may have a greater influence than constraining factors on emergent identities, and constraining factors seem to have a greater influence than enabling factors on sustaining identity development throughout the career. Additionally, pedagogical and curricular modifications may strengthen emerging research identities during doctoral education. Two narrative themes emerged relating to disciplinary leadership, suggesting two areas deserving of further study.


Universities and colleges - Faculty


Women college graduates