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Article
Publication date: 9 September 2021

Kristen Howell Gregory and Amanda Kate Burbage

The purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of critical friendship on a first- and last-year doctoral student’s novice and expert mindsets during role…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of critical friendship on a first- and last-year doctoral student’s novice and expert mindsets during role transitions. Doctoral students are challenged to navigate role transitions during their academic programs. Experiences in research expectations, academy acculturation and work-life balance, may impact doctoral students’ novice-expert mindsets and contribute to the costly problem of attrition. Universities offer generic doctoral support, but few support sources address the long-term self-directed nature of self-study.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors participated in a collaborative self-study over a 30-month period. The authors collected 35 personal shared journal entries and 12 recorded and transcribed discussions. The authors conducted a constant comparative analysis of the data, and individually and collaboratively coded the data for initial and focused codes to construct themes.

Findings

The critical friendship provided a safe space to explore the doctoral experiences and novice-expert mindsets, which the authors were not fully able to do with programmatic support alone. The authors identified nine specific strategies that positively impacted the novice-expert mindsets during the following role transitions: professional to student, student to graduate and graduate to professional.

Originality/value

While researchers have identified strategies and models for doctoral student support targeting specific milestones, this study identified strategies to support doctoral students’ novice-expert mindsets during role transitions. These strategies may benefit other graduate students, as well as faculty and program directors, as they work to support student completion.

Details

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-4686

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Article
Publication date: 17 May 2021

Yusuke Sakurai and Kirsi Pyhältö

This study aims to explore the disciplinary characteristics of doctoral students’ generic skills learning experience at a Finnish university.

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore the disciplinary characteristics of doctoral students’ generic skills learning experience at a Finnish university.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey measuring doctoral students’ generic skills learning experience was administered to all doctoral students of the university and 1,184 responses were obtained. The study conducted exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, principal component analysis and heatmap analyses.

Findings

The results suggested three major trends. First, students’ scores for research integrity skills were consistently lower in the hard sciences, such as biological and environmental sciences, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, science and medicine. Second, students of the law showed a unique trend; their scores for research integrity, leadership and entrepreneurship skills learning were remarkably higher than those in other faculties, but they had the lowest scores for communication skills.

Research limitations/implications

The data represented students at one Finnish university, so institutional and geographical differences fell beyond the scope of this paper. Furthermore, the results could reflect either the authentic levels of students’ acquired skillsets or self-interpretation of experiences governed by their disciplinary values. Accordingly, the immediate generalisability of the findings to individuals and different contexts should carefully be considered.

Originality/value

The findings can contribute to improve doctoral training practices. In addition, the survey results are useful for the further development of inventories, as doctoral students’ engagement in generic skills development has been attracting attention in higher education.

Details

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-4686

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Book part
Publication date: 16 September 2021

Melora Sundt and Leslie Wheaton

What contributes to US professional doctoral student success in the online space is the subject of this chapter. The online doctoral student occupies two underserved…

Abstract

What contributes to US professional doctoral student success in the online space is the subject of this chapter. The online doctoral student occupies two underserved categories of higher education students: doctoral students and online students, both of which have historically low graduation rates (Bawa, 2016; Stone, 2017). A number of US online doctoral programs have significantly higher graduation rates than normal, demonstrating that it is possible to create highly successful online doctoral programs. In this chapter, we apply the R. E. Clark and Estes (2008) conceptual framework of human performance to understanding the factors contributing to doctoral student success in online programs. We look at three stakeholder groups, faculty, staff, and students, and review the factors and solutions that could allow each group to contribute to doctoral student success. This review of the literature is informed by examples drawn from two online professional doctoral programs for which the authors either designed and taught courses, and chaired dissertations, or were enrolled in as a student.

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2021

Wayne Usher and Brittany A. McCormack

The Higher Degree Research (HDR) journey is known for its difficulties, complexities and challenges (Lees-Deutsch, 2020), with many students experiencing multi-faceted…

Abstract

Purpose

The Higher Degree Research (HDR) journey is known for its difficulties, complexities and challenges (Lees-Deutsch, 2020), with many students experiencing multi-faceted issues and concerns (Skopek et al., 2020). Therefore, the purpose of this research is to investigate the relationships that exist between variables, vulnerability factors and doctorial capital of candidates (n = 532) studying at Australian universities (2019).

Design/methodology/approach

A quantitative cross-sectional correlational research design and Bronfenbrenner's socio – ecological framework (personal, home, university, community) was utilised to collect participants' (n = 532) descriptive statistics. Bourdieu's social reproduction theory was used as a lens to examine how experiences, across the PhD candidature, are influenced by several psychosocial factors and doctoral capital.

Findings

From such a dual methodological approach, the findings from this study suggests that (1) age, (2) gender, (3) nationality, (4) financial/work status, (5) years of PhD and (6) attending postgraduate (PG) student events, go to significantly (p < 0.001) impact (positively and negatively) on students' experiences and correspondingly, impacts on their self-confidence, motivation and mental health and well-being status.

Research limitations/implications

Research limitations are related to the recruitment of more doctoral students across more Australian universities. Further research is required from HDR supervisors, so as to “balance” the experiences of the PhD journey in higher education.

Practical implications

In order to succeed in academia and HDR programs, students need to identify with and develop the “right kind of capital” to successfully navigate fields of social and scholarly play. Investigating how the participants perceive their social and scholarly habitus is seen as crucial in helping students to develop positive dispositions relevant to being a doctoral student.

Social implications

The concept of doctoral capital and well-being, amongst Australian PhD students, is under researched and requires further investigation as a precursor to developing more specific policy designs aimed at providing heightened positive learning environments/HDR programs tailored to support doctoral students.

Originality/value

Whilst reforms to improve PhD experiences are well established across the international literature (Geven et al., 2018; Skopek et al., 2020), evidence for Australia is largely missing. It is envisaged, that findings from this research will further assist in the development of quality policies that would go to provide effective services and support for doctoral students within Australian universities.

Details

Health Education, vol. 121 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0965-4283

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Article
Publication date: 5 April 2021

Shaoan Zhang, Mark Carroll, Chengcheng Li and Emily Lin

This paper aims to expand the theory of situated learning with the application of technology and provides a technology-based situated learning model with suggestions for…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to expand the theory of situated learning with the application of technology and provides a technology-based situated learning model with suggestions for doctoral program design.

Design/methodology/approach

A literature review of the relevant topics was conducted. Themes emerged by the systematic review of the relevant studies and theoretical framework.

Findings

Studies reveal that part-time doctoral students often feel unsupported, dissatisfied and disconnected with their program. Many of these issues may be mitigated by faculty and peer mentoring, and various forms of asynchronous communication through a situated learning framework with interactive communication technologies.

Research limitations/implications

Research of doctoral education should pay more attention to part-time doctoral students and investigate the quality of their programs given their individual needs, and how their progression and completion can be achieved through the innovative approaches proposed in this study.

Practical implications

Program designers may use a technology-based situated learning approach in program design to fulfill part-time doctoral students’ needs toward enhancing mentorship, students’ academic self-efficacy and career preparation. Further support is offered through a virtual community of practice.

Social implications

This paper draws researchers’ attention to program design and part-time doctoral students’ retention and completion of a doctoral program.

Originality/value

This study provides an innovative synergetic model that helps administrators and program designers to design doctoral programs and motivates researchers to conduct research regarding part-time doctoral students.

Details

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, vol. 12 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-4686

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Book part
Publication date: 31 October 2014

Emefa Takyi-Amoako

The purpose of this chapter, which is a response to calls to examine students’ perspectives of the doctoral experience, is to investigate the notion that doctoral

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this chapter, which is a response to calls to examine students’ perspectives of the doctoral experience, is to investigate the notion that doctoral education facilitates developing nodes in leading networks of knowledge for leader and leadership development – a theme that has not been examined.

Design/methodology/approach

Using data generated from in-depth interviews embedded with excerpts of personal life stories and the questionnaire, this qualitative study analyses the views of some African students about their experiences of doctoral study in the United Kingdom.

Findings

The study discovered that doctoral education is perceived as: acquisition of knowledge and capabilities for professional leadership trajectories; creator of learning communities, networks and relationship resources; developing nodes in leading knowledge networks; progression from the self to the relational and to the collective; and action learning, all for leader and leadership development.

Originality/value

Drawing on the findings, the chapter argues for the novel notion of doctoral education as developing nodes within leading networks of knowledge for leader and leadership development.

Research limitations/implications

Although, the research is a qualitative study that focused on a small group of students in one university, and as a result, its findings cannot be generalised, its implication for doctoral agendas worldwide and Africa and its Agenda 2063, in particular, need consideration.

Details

Investing in our Education: Leading, Learning, Researching and the Doctorate
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-131-2

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Book part
Publication date: 12 November 2018

Tiffany Fountaine Boykin and Larry J. Walker

Although established for the purpose of educating Black Americans, recently, many HBCUs have been witness to a steady increase of White students (Shorette II & Arroyo…

Abstract

Although established for the purpose of educating Black Americans, recently, many HBCUs have been witness to a steady increase of White students (Shorette II & Arroyo, 2015). And, with projections that non-Black student enrollment will continue to increase at HBCUs (Palmer, Shorette II, & Gasman, 2015), strategies for supporting the changing demographics are needed. This chapter presents selected findings from a larger quantitative investigation examining the impact of faculty–student engagement on the experiences and perceived persistence, or belief that one will complete a doctoral program, of White doctoral students at HBCUs. Results indicated external engagement, i.e., social components for student success external to a student’s academic program and research practices, was a best predictor for optimal experiences and increased belief in self for program completion. Directions for future research and practice are offered.

Details

Underserved Populations at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78754-841-1

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Book part
Publication date: 30 October 2018

Josipa Roksa, Soojeong Jeong, David Feldon and Michelle Maher

Studies of inequality in higher education on both undergraduate and graduate levels have rarely examined experiences of Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs). In this study…

Abstract

Studies of inequality in higher education on both undergraduate and graduate levels have rarely examined experiences of Asians and Pacific Islanders (APIs). In this study, we focus on the experiences and outcomes of API students in doctoral education. More specifically, we examine socialization experiences and research productivity of three groups of students: domestic API, international API, and domestic white students. The results, based on a national cohort of PhD students in biology, reveal notable differences in experiences and outcomes of domestic and international API students. Although variation in socialization experiences explains differences in research productivity in the first year, that is not the case in the second year of doctoral study. In the second year, international API students have publication productivity comparable to their white peers, despite less favorable socialization experiences. Domestic API students, however, have lower research productivity than their white peers, even though they have comparable socialization experiences. Given the presumption of APIs’ success, especially in the STEM fields, findings for domestic API students are surprising and not aligned with the model minority stereotype. Contributions to research on API students, doctoral education, and socialization theory are discussed.

Details

Research in the Sociology of Education
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-077-6

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Article
Publication date: 29 June 2020

Cynthia Courtois, Maude Plante and Pier-Luc Lajoie

This study aims to better understand how academics-in-the-making construe doctoral performance and the impacts of this construal on their positioning in relation to…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to better understand how academics-in-the-making construe doctoral performance and the impacts of this construal on their positioning in relation to doctoral performance expectations.

Design/methodology/approach

This study is based on 25 semi-structured interviews with PhD students from Canadian, Dutch, Scottish and Australian business schools.

Findings

Based on Decoteau’s (2016) concept of reflexive habitus, this study highlights how doctoral students’ construal is influenced by their previous experiences and by expectations from other adjacent fields in which they simultaneously gravitate. This leads them to adopt a position oscillating between resistance and compliance in relation to their understanding of doctoral performance expectations promoted in the academic field.

Research limitations/implications

The concept of reflexivity, as understood by Decoteau (2016), is found to be pivotal when an individual integrates into a new field.

Practical implications

This study encourages business schools to review expectations regarding doctoral performance. These expectations should be clear, but they should also leave room for PhD students to preserve their academic aspirations.

Originality/value

It is beneficial to empirically clarify the influence of performance expectations in academia on the reflexivity of PhD students, as the majority of studies exploring this topic mainly leverage auto-ethnographic data.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 17 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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Article
Publication date: 14 May 2018

Casey E. George, Evthokia Stephanie Saclarides and Sarah Theule Lubienski

This study aims to focus on survey reports of doctoral students’ experiences in the USA, providing a look at factors influencing “in the moment” decisions students make…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to focus on survey reports of doctoral students’ experiences in the USA, providing a look at factors influencing “in the moment” decisions students make about persistence. Specifically, the authors investigate the reasons doctoral students consider leaving their programs, and how these reasons may differ for international and domestic students. The authors also examine international–domestic patterns by sex and by program of study.

Design/methodology/approach

As part of a campus-wide doctoral program assessment, doctoral students and recent graduates at a large, public, Research I institution in the Midwest region of the USA are asked to complete a program satisfaction survey. Content analysis of open-ended survey responses is the basis of the analysis. Next, a code by committee approach is used whereby two members of the research team coded all open-ended responses and discussed discrepancies to reach consensus on all codes assigned, and to reduce individual biases. Each open-ended response is assigned at least one of 16 codes, with more than one code used as necessary.

Findings

The results suggest that, although both academic and social factors are important influences of doctoral departure in general, academic concerns – specifically, alignment with goals, career preparation and program structure – may be particularly important for international students, whereas social aspects – faculty relationships and program climate – may be more important for domestic US students.

Research limitations/implications

Researchers should consider conducting larger, multi-institutional studies in the USA, which would reflect a diversity of perspectives and experiences within the American context. Parallel studies of doctoral programs in other countries may be useful in identifying whether similar factors are found for international and domestic students attending those programs. Follow-up interviews could be used to further delve into and understand the emergent patterns from the surveys. The findings of such future studies have the power to inform programs and policies designed to increase the retention of both domestic and international doctoral students.

Practical implications

Given that faculty/advising is one of the most important factors cited by both domestic and international students, our findings suggest that US faculty members may need to give more attention to nurturing supportive relationships with their advisees. Furthermore, American university administrators might consider changing tenure requirements and reward systems for professors to place more emphasis on cultivating positive relationships with advisees, publishing, presenting and writing grants with advisees, and providing high-quality mentoring for doctoral students. Doctoral-granting institutions should consider implementing regular program reviews that include surveys from doctoral students to help programs identify and meet their students’ needs.

Originality/value

Likewise, while other research on international studentsdoctoral experiences has been conducted, such as the relationship with their faculty advisor (Kim, 2007; Rice et al., 2009), single studies that focus on factors affecting the attrition of domestic versus that of international students’ remain limited. The purpose of this study is to address the following research questions: What factors contribute to doctoral students’ considerations of departure in the USA? How might these factors differ between domestic and international students? We seek to expand understandings of doctoral attrition by using larger-scale qualitative data to address limitations of existing studies that focus on the experiences of only a few students.

Details

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-4686

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