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© C. Manathunga, 2008 Research Student Virtual Portfolio (RSVP™): experiences in Australia and the UK Dr Catherine Manathunga University of Queensland, Australia Preparing for Academic Practice: Disciplinary perspectives Conference, Oxford, April 2008
© C. Manathunga, 2008 Research and Innovation Leaders of the future: doctoral graduates Doctoral programs seek to transform students into independent researchers Importance of preparation not only for academe but also industry, business and the professions – current research trajectories (Pearson & Brew, 2002; Rip, 2004; Tyler, 1998) Critique of current doctoral programs as too narrow, despite recent additional coursework (esp. UKGrad program) (Clark, 1996; Cryer, 1998) Australian doctoral programs mostly continue to have no formal coursework requirements
© C. Manathunga, 2008 Graduate Attribute Debate Is the graduate attribute agenda overly narrow and instrumental? (Gilbert et al., 2004; Sandberg, 2000) Neo-liberal approach to research ‘training”? Irony of claiming doctoral graduates have common attributes when the key goal of doctoral programs is that students make an original contribution to knowledge (Gilbert et al., 2004) However, students are keen to have general career development opportunities during their doctoral studies and are keen to demonstrate their employability (Borthwick & Wissler, 2003; Manathunga et al., 2007)
© C. Manathunga, 2008 Developed out of a research project on interdisciplinary research education and academic development (Manathunga et al., 2006) Developed by Catherine Manathunga, Paul Lant, George Mellick, The University of Queensland Trademarked in Australia and under application for a UK trademark Internationally licensed to The University of Sheffield in 2005 RSVP™ online database currently under development Will be available as a commercial product in the future Details: http://www.uq.edu.au/grad-school/rsvp
© C. Manathunga, 2008 RSVP consists of… 4 step process: 1. Set of research students’ graduate attributes. 2. Key performance indicators associated with each graduate attribute. 3. Reflective review tool. 4. Portfolio based on evidence of achievement of the key performance indicators (). Resource package for students and advisors. Training program for supervisors. Our job is to specify these so that they are relevant for you
© C. Manathunga, 2008 The Graduate Attributes Problem-solving and problem-formulation from different perspectives Communication skills Project management skills Industry-focus and/or professional experience Understanding and applying multiple disciplinary and international perspectives High quality research skills Expert integrated knowledge Social, ethical and environmental responsibility
© C. Manathunga, 2008 Customising the GA’s and KPI’s: Communication Skills DescriptionHow this could be demonstrated (KPIs) To express an idea: The student will be able to present their work in several forms (written, spoken or graphically) in different contexts and to different audiences The student will have gained experience in teaching/training and advising people The student has: Effectively presented their work at internal seminars and/or conferences, congresses, etc. Clearly expressed their ideas and results (orally and in powerpoint), gathered feedback, and demonstrated how they have improved their presentation skills based on this feedback Written well-structured, highly effective reports/papers and indicated their attempts to improve their writing skills. Demonstrated the ability to plan and organise lecture, tutorial or training sessions and develop and deliver effective training materials and activities Facilitated the successful completion of honours projects as honours supervisors Disseminated special skills like statistical analysis methods to other students To understand and value other knowledges: The student will be able to read, listen to and appreciate other people’s ideas The student has: Compiled an interdisciplinary literature review that will provide them with ways to expand their own work applied other disciplines’ languages and concepts to their work actively participated in meetings and seminars showing that they understand other people’s perspectives ed other experts in their field after being introduced by their supervisor, keeping the supervisor in the loop with communications. Received tutor training and been involved in teaching and postgraduate advising.
© C. Manathunga, 2008 Customising the GA’s and KPI’s: Communication Skills
© C. Manathunga, 2008 Applying RSVP™ in your discipline Reflective review and action planning process: Supervisors and students each reflect on the student’s existing skills and areas for improvement under each graduate attribute and develop an action plan Portfolio – evidence of student’s achievement of each graduate attribute Activity: (10 mins) Join your disciplinary group Look at several lists of graduate attributes and descriptions Are there any additional attributes you would need? Do the descriptions match the concerns of your discipline? Discuss the key performance indicators/ways of demonstrating one graduate attribute.
© C. Manathunga, 2008 Evaluation in Australia Advanced Wastewater Management Centre – microbiologists, chemical engineers and some social scientists Evaluation strategy – embedded in the process; student and staff focus groups, interviews, industry evaluation, Cooperative Research Centre evaluation Pedagogical outcomes: Assist students to: manage their research projects effectively through reflection and action planning Manage their relationships with their supervisors through dialogue and negotiation Plan their career goals and strategies for compiling evidence of their graduate attributes Prepare for a range of employment options in academe, industry and the professions Barriers to success – time and supervisor commitment (issue of contracts) Won a UQ and a national Carrick Award for Programs that Enhance Student Learning in 2005 and 2006
© C. Manathunga, 2008 Evaluation in the UK Piloted in the Department of Chemical & Process Engineering, The University of Sheffield – Dr Catherine Biggs Evaluation strategy – embedded; review by educational development staff at Sheffield (staff and student survey, observations, meetings with project leader) Main findings: Students and staff found it a valuable and are beginning to take a more holistic view of doctoral studies Positive learning experience for student in identifying strengths and areas for further development Systematic and practical approach to identifying development needs and formulating a practical action plan Students value the collaborative and inclusive approach to developing disciplinary-based attributes and KPIs and working closely with supervisors Barriers to success – staff and student commitment, time constraints, inertia, takes time away from research project
© C. Manathunga, 2008 Pedagogical implications Importance of ensuring that supervisors and students engage in an active dialogue about the student’s career development Effectiveness of incorporating structured reflective and experiential learning activities into doctoral programs Encourages widespread debate in departments about the purpose of doctoral education, the roles of supervisors and the disciplinary-based practices of experienced researchers
© C. Manathunga, 2008 References Clark, J. (1996). Postgraduate skills: A view from industry. Meeting the demands of R, D & E leadership in a rapidly changing social and business environment (Report on graduate skills and industry): Faulding. Cryer, P. (1998). Transferable skills, marketability and lifelong learning: The particular case of postgraduate research students. Studies in Higher Education, 23(2), Borthwick, J., & Wissler, R. (2003). Postgraduate research students and generic capabilities: Online directions. Canberra: DEST. Gilbert, R, Balatti, J., Turner, P., & Whitehouse, H. (2004). The generic skills debate in research higher degrees. Higher Education Research & Development, 23(3), Manathunga, C., Lant, P., & Mellick, G. (2006). Imagining an interdisciplinary doctoral pedagogy. Teaching in Higher Education, 11(3), Manathunga, C.; Lant, P. & Mellick, G. (2007). Developing professional researchers: research students’ graduate attributes. Studies in Continuing Education, 29:1, Pearson, M., & Brew, A. (2002). Research training and supervision development. Studies in Higher Education, 27(2), Rip, A. (2004). Strategic research, post-modern universities and research training. Higher Education Policy, 17, Sandberg, J. (2000). Understanding human competence at work: An interpretative approach. Academy of Management Journal, 43, Tyler, J. (1998). Research training for the 21st century. Governmental report in 'Higher Education Series'. No. 33. Canberra, ACT: Higher Education Division, Department of Education, Training and Youth Affairs.
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