I think your phraseology of ‘iteratively, in a non-linear fashion’ is a very useful way of expressing this notion. And it serves to remind one that the ‘models’ are less models than items for consideration, tools that may aid reflection.
My suspicion that Beeler had presented an untested, non-empirical framework was borne out. To be fair, he even states openly himself in the section entitled ‘Needed research about the four-stage framework’ that this model is in its infancy. And none of the referenced papers test the sequence. So it remains a non-theory.
What is the general feeling among working researchers about the status of such models? I tend to only want to reference thoroughly-tested (by that I mean if it’s a psychological sequence, it has some basis in emprical research) ideas. Building on Beeler’s baby model as if it were an established ‘thing’, such as Ali and Kohun, and others who simply put Beeler as a very quick reference in a line or in parenthesis, have done strikes me as lacking in academic integrity.
There was a line in Ali and Kohun that did strike me as noteworthy to this wider discussion.
In other words, most doctoral programs do not have systematic procedures to integrate the students into the social life of the doctoral programs. Instead, these efforts are left to the students themselves or to the faculty members individually. p. 39
Why? Surely as candidates at the highest level of study, one attribute we need more than anything else is the ability to think through relevance from irrelevance. As a natural sorting procedure, those who can stay and become and those who can’t leave. Student attrition is a terrible thing, surely, but surely a doctoral candidate is one who is able to function individually without such hand-holding. Maybe attrition rates would be better if more screening were done prior to entry on programmes.
Ali, A., and F. Kohun. 2007. Dealing with social isolation to minimize doctoral attrition – A four-stage framework. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 28(2), 163-171.