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Transforming doctoral education: preparing multidimensional and adaptive scholars

Clinton A. Patterson (Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Chi-Ning Chang (Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Courtney N. Lavadia (Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Marta L. Pardo (Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Debra A. Fowler (Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Karen Butler-Purry (Office of Graduate and Professional Studies, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education

ISSN: 2398-4686

Article publication date: 29 August 2019

Issue publication date: 9 April 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Concerning trends in graduate education, such as high attrition and underdeveloped skills, drive toward a new doctoral education approach. This paper aims to describe and propose a transformative doctoral education model (TDEM), incorporating elements that potentially address these challenges and expand the current practice. The model envisions discipline-specific knowledge coupled with a broader interdisciplinary perspective and addresses the transferable skills necessary to successfully navigate an ever-changing workforce and global landscape. The overarching goal of TDEM is to transform the doctoral student into a multi-dimensional and adaptive scholar, so the students of today can effectively and meaningfully solve the problems of tomorrow.

Design/methodology/approach

The foundation of TDEM is transformative learning theory, supporting the notion learner transformation occurs throughout the doctoral educational experience.

Findings

Current global doctoral education models and literature were reviewed. These findings informed the new TDEM.

Practical implications

Designed as a customizable framework for learner-centered doctoral education, TDEM promotes a mentor network on and off-campus, interdisciplinarity and agile career scope preparedness.

Social implications

Within the TDEM framework, doctoral students develop valuable knowledge and transferable skills. These developments increase doctoral student career adaptability and preparedness, as well as enables graduates to appropriately respond to global and societal complex problems.

Originality/value

This proposed doctoral education framework was formulated through a review of the literature and experiences with curricular design and pedagogical practices at a research-intensive university’s teaching and learning center. TDEM answers the call to develop frameworks that address issues in doctoral education and present a flexible and more personalized training. TDEM encourages doctoral student transformation into adaptive, forward-thinking scholars and thriving in an ever-changing workforce.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The TDEM spun out of a funded proposal (NSF-DGE-1545403) to design an interdisciplinary curriculum specific to materials science, informatics and engineering design. The authors are grateful for the faculty and students at Texas A&M University’s D3EM program. In addition, the authors wish to thank the reviewers for their constructive feedback and appreciate anyone who had helpful discussions with them.

Citation

Patterson, C.A., Chang, C.-N., Lavadia, C.N., Pardo, M.L., Fowler, D.A. and Butler-Purry, K. (2020), "Transforming doctoral education: preparing multidimensional and adaptive scholars", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. 11 No. 1, pp. 17-34. https://doi.org/10.1108/SGPE-03-2019-0029

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited