To read this content please select one of the options below:

Developing critical reflection in professional focused doctorates: a facilitator's perspective

Sally Sambrook (University of Bangor, Bangor, UK)
Jim Stewart (Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK)

Journal of European Industrial Training

ISSN: 0309-0590

Article publication date: 6 June 2008




This paper aims to explore the challenges and opportunities for expediting critical reflection in management education and development to highlight particularly how critical reflection has been facilitated within the context of a professionally focused doctoral programme.


The paper draws on empirical research conducted for a broader project, focusing here on two awaydays for DBA supervisors (n=25 in 2005 and n=16 in 2006) and a UFHRD workshop in 2007 (n=12) for members involved and/or interested in doctoral programmes in HRD, where the empirical research findings were presented and discussed. The paper presents selected findings from the perspective of staff through their own critical reflections, drawing on the data from the two awaydays and the UFHRD workshop. Detailed handwritten notes were taken and transcribed, in addition to flipchart material provided by the participants. These qualitative data are analysed using thematic analysis. The quotations presented are as accurate as possible (verbatim) and any ambiguous notes have been deliberately excluded.


Emerging findings include the need to clarify the concept for both staff and students, and embed critical reflection from the beginning of the programme and throughout written assignments. Insights into how staff perceive critical reflection within a DBA programme are offered, including how staff might assume (incorrectly) that advanced practitioners arrive with a high level of maturity to engage in critical reflection, and yet advanced practitioners “worry” about critique and perceive it as negative and/or failure.

Research limitations/implications

It is acknowledged that the subjective experience of student participants is not central to this discussion, and, whilst a limitation of this paper, this presents an avenue for further research.

Practical implications

The paper presents a critical and reflexive account from a facilitator's perspective and offers practical suggestions for incorporating critical reflection within a DBA programme.


Given the dearth of literature of facilitating critical reflection in the context of professionally focused doctoral programmes, this paper makes a small and initial contribution to this field.



Sambrook, S. and Stewart, J. (2008), "Developing critical reflection in professional focused doctorates: a facilitator's perspective", Journal of European Industrial Training, Vol. 32 No. 5, pp. 359-373.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles