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How can we improve the structure and delivery of Professional Doctorates? An analysis of student’s feedback using Bourdieu’s concept of capital and habitus.

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Presentation on theme: "How can we improve the structure and delivery of Professional Doctorates? An analysis of student’s feedback using Bourdieu’s concept of capital and habitus."— Presentation transcript:

1 How can we improve the structure and delivery of Professional Doctorates? An analysis of student’s feedback using Bourdieu’s concept of capital and habitus Patricia Jarrett, School of Health and Education, Middlesex University, London Dr Patricia Maitland, University of Westminster Dr Nick Pratt, University of Plymouth Mr Lazar Karagic, De Montfort University

2 1.Background to the Professional Doctorate 2.What is a Professional Doctorate? 1.Characteristics, Knowledge, Assessment, Perceptions 3.The study 4.What influences Professional Doctorate students decisions? 5.Bourdieu’s concept of capital, field and habitus in relation to Professional Doctorates 6.Conclusion and Recommendations O Outline | 2

3 © Middlesex University Background  There has been an increase in the number of Professional Doctorate degrees offered by UK universities over last 30 years  Particularly pertinent to nurse education which has been struggling to achieve academic parity within more established academic disciplines  Acquisition of Professional Doctorates may help nursing profession achieve validity and credibility within Higher Education | 3

4 © Middlesex University What is a Professional Doctorate?  Professional Doctorate is often defined in relation to the PhD  Professional Doctorate  Emphasis on acquiring professional skills  Contains taught elements  Includes original research project | 4 Professional DoctoratePhD Central focus – professional practice“Pure” research Stresses applied research or application of research Develops “professional researchers” Taught componentsNo taught component Candidates have evidence of relevant experience Previous professional experience not necessary Completion of one or two projects or a portfolio of projects Completion of 80, 000 word document

5 © Middlesex University What is a Professional Doctorate?  Differences in the nature of knowledge  Mode 1 knowledge [more PhD] produced by the Scientific Community, emphasis on knowledge which is value free, homogenous, hierarchical and constant  Mode 2 knowledge [more Professional Doctorate] acknowledges knowledge as contextual and the complexities of the workplace. Knowledge is heterogeneous, transient, there is an emphasis on real world research. | 5

6 © Middlesex University What is a Professional Doctorate?  Assessment  Equivalence to other types of doctoral degrees offered by universities  The majority of universities assess professional doctorates at the same level as they would assess a PhD  Research component of the professional doctorate is assessed in the same way as the PhD with the emphasis on contribution to knowledge  The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education [QAA] are clear that the professional doctorate is not an inferior type of degree | 6

7 © Middlesex University What is a Professional Doctorate?  Perceptions of the Professional Doctorate  Despite validation from the QAA, perception of the PhD as the “gold standard” with any alternative as “second class” and the professional doctorate representing a “watering down” of standards  Concern that a shorter thesis was unlikely to generate the same depth of knowledge and understanding in terms of research methodology  Concern that the professional doctorate tends to be over assessed  PhD remained the benchmark against which all other forms of doctoral education are judged Ellis, L. (2007) Academics’ perceptions of the professional or clinical doctorate: findings of a national survey. Journal of Clinical Nursing. Available [Accessed June 2014] | 7

8 © Middlesex University The study  Small qualitative study  Semi-structured interviews with 12 students at DMU, Westminster and Plymouth universities  Range of disciplines including nursing, health visiting, education and other professions allied to medicine  Ethical approval granted and consent obtained  Interviews recorded and transcribed verbatim  Thematic analysis of data  Bourdieu’s concept of habitus, field and capital will be used to interpret student responses | 8

9 © Middlesex University The study  The participants  All participants were mature students, aged between 41 and 52 years of age  Range of 10 to 20 years in professional practice  All students were enrolled on a Professional Doctorate programme | 9

10 © Middlesex University The study  Key question: what influences students decision making in choosing a Professional Doctorate?  Three themes were identified from the data  Material constraints  Psychological constraints  Perceptions of the Professional Doctorate. | 10

11 © Middlesex University What factors influenced students decisions?  Material constraints “I guess that’s the reason why most people don’t do a PhD or doctorate because they just can’t afford to do it… ….it doesn’t matter [what your first preference is], you can’t do it cause you can’t afford it. So you take your next option…… and you move on….” DHSci student 1 “If I was told, we can fund you for a PhD but not for the DHSci, I’d say I’ll do the PhD because I couldn’t afford a DHSci” “…and it was being funded by the ……., which was a bonus, so I decided to send for the literature…..” DHSci student 2 “If I had to fund myself for the entire four years……I might not have embarked on it…..” “With regards my own particular situation, it would have been difficult [not to have funding] with supporting children at university and financial commitments” PD Health and Social Care Student “I had looked at the PhD, but financially it would have been difficult for me to live on that.” DHSci student 3 | 11

12 © Middlesex University What influences student decisions?  Psychological Constraints Needing deadlines “I’m one of these people that I need to see a point where it finishes. I don’t want something without some frame to work to. I always work best when there is a deadline……” DHSci student 3 “…I like the thought of having the two years in university with taught modules to almost get you up to the level of writing at doctoral level rather than going straight in there” DHSci student 1 Needing Support “I felt I needed to be supported to be able to do this. I feel I needed a very supportive and directed programme rather than me going off and perhaps taking my own time to do it.” DHSci student 3 “I would probably chose the Prof Doc in that support is really helpful if you haven’t done any type of research degree before” PD Health and Social care student “If I was presented with the professional doctorate for those reasons that there is support” DHSci student 2 | 12

13 © Middlesex University What influences student decisions?  Students perception of the Professional Doctorate Student’s perceptions of the Professional Doctorate “Some people have told me that the professional doctorate is not viewed as being as credible as the PhD” DHSci student 1 “A friend at work was quite clear that she thought the professional doctorate was not the same status as the PhD” DHSci student 2 | 13

14 © Middlesex University What influences students decisions?  Students perception of the Professional Doctorate Lack of Confidence in Academic Ability “ I have never been confident of myself as an academic……so I have constantly gone through this thing of needing to prove myself….” EdD Student 1 “I felt that I was looked down on in academic circles, because I didn’t have a degree…..[a professional doctorate] was something that I had never imagined I would be able to do or be in able to do and never really thought about before” “ I thought I wasn’t academic enough. I thought I would probably struggle.” EdD Student 2 “I came in thinking everyone else was a lot brighter than me and they must be all really clever. Someone’s going to find out I’m stupid.” “Every time I think about it, I think what am I doing. I’m never going to be able to finish this, I’m just wasting my time.” DHSci student 3 | 14

15 © Middlesex University Bourdieu’s concept of field, habitus and capital  Education reproduces social inequalities rather than act as mechanism for social change  Why the need for different types of doctoral degrees?  Distinctions between practice/theory, research/practice, professional doctorate/PhD are part of a larger political struggle within education, [the field]  Distinctions between PhD and Professional Doctorates enables dominant group to maintain hegemony [capital] in higher education  Individuals adjust their expectations with regard to the capital they are likely to attain in terms of the limitations imposed upon them by class, background, place in the field [habitus]  Students are not only socialised into what they can and cannot achieve, but reinforce these social structures by their perceptions of the natural order of things | 15

16 © Middlesex University Conclusion  Increased number of Professional Doctorate degrees offered by UK universities  QAA stress the equivalence of the professional doctorate to the PhD, both in content and assessment.  Students decisions were based on personal rather than professional reasons  Students perceived the professional doctorate to be less prestigious than the PhD and more doable and “easier” to achieve  Bourdieu’s theory suggests education reproduces social inequality  Struggle for power and capital within Higher Education places professional doctorates in a less prestigious position to PhD  Bourdieu's concept of habitus enables us to understand how individuals habitus is both structured and reinforces existing social structures | 16

17 © Middlesex University Recommendations  Professional Doctorates fulfil a specific purpose  The perception of Professional Doctorates by students and others working in Higher Education is complex  This complexity needs to be understood and has implication in the development of Professional Doctorate programmes, marketing of Professional Doctorates and recruitment of students. | 17

18 Thank you for listening | 18


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