Title

The importance of personalized student support services in graduate-level programs : a case study of a managerially-run, international graduate program

Publication Date

1-1-2005

Degree Name

MA in International and Intercultural Management

First Advisor

Ken Williams

Abstract

The Program in International Development Policy (PIDP) is a graduate program for mid-career professionals at Duke University. Its staff and faculty place great emphasis on "personalizing" the support services that they provide to the students. When I joined the program as the Program Assistant in June 2002, the PIDP was student body was growing rapidly, and the administration was concerned that its personal touch might be lost. This led me to my research topic: What is the impact of personalized student support services on the students in Duke University's Program in International Development Policy? It has remained my hope that, through an examination of the impact that these services have on the students, faculty, and staff, I could determine if these personalized services really made a difference in the Fellow's experience with the program, and that I could generate ideas for future services for the PIDP staff and faculty. Using the case study approach, the interpretive research paradigm, and questionnaires, interviews, and a focus group as data collection methods, it was determined that these services do have a major effect on the Fellows' overall level of satisfaction with the program. Further, it was discovered that the faculty and staff must use a managerial, customer-service oriented approach to successfully, plan, implement, and provide personalized student support services to the Fellows. My research also has indicated a need for more clearly defined expectations of services provided, better communication of feedback, and a better attempt to streamline services for the sake of program growth so as to maintain the quality of these services and a high level of program satisfaction for the Fellows.

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