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Douglas Halliday Durham University

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1 Douglas Halliday Durham University
What is effective doctoral supervision? (The changing landscape of doctoral education) Douglas Halliday Durham University

2 Summary Introduction Context UK , Europe Recent trends
Development of PhD What is a PhD? Realities of doing a doctorate What makes a good supervisor? Responses Conclusions & Discussions

3 Durham Context Current PG numbers PGR Breakdown:
PGR 1540 (48% increase from 2005) PGT (20% increase from 2005) PGR Breakdown: Full Time Home Fee 50% Full Time O/S Fee 24% Part Time Home Fee 17% Part Time O/S Fee 9%

4 Development of the modern PhD
1809 Von Humboldt – PhD Taken up in USA (little interest Europe) First modern UK PhD – Oxford 1920 Durham – 1927 Didn’t spread across UK until after 1945 Many disciplines didn’t build PhD community until 1950/60’s Some supervised by non-PhD staff 21st Century PhD now accepted as gateway: Academic Research Other...

5 UK National Framework – Evolution
Succession of reports set agenda: Research Councils’ Joint Skills Statement (2001) SET for Success, STEM subjects (2002) Investing in Innovation (2003) Science Innovation Framework HEFCE, JM Consulting, Costs of training PGRs (2005) Warry Report – Economic Impact of Research (2006) Leitch Review – World class skills (2006) Concordat – Career development of researchers (2008) BIS PG Review “One step beyond” (2010) Vitae RDF – RDS successor to JSS (2010) Hodge Review of Roberts’ Skills Training (2011) RCUK Postgraduate Policy Framework (2013) Main drivers for change external to Universities

6 European Context Bologna process (1999) agreed to establishment of European Higher Education Area by (2010) “Soft process” Doctoral Programmes later included as 3rd Cycle Qualifications UK significant influence on what represents 3rd cycle qualifications (Professional Doctorates, Skills Training) Salzburg Descriptors – 10 principles for developing PhDs in Bologna area “Dublin Descriptors” (agreed 2004 Joint Quality Initiative): With respect to skills development: Masters “largely self directed or autonomous” Doctorate “expected to be able to promote technological, social or cultural advancement” Bologna largely unnoticed in UK

7 Salzburg Principles (I and II)
Established in 2005, reviewed in 2010, as part of Bologna process for reforms of doctoral education. Guidelines with three overarching principles embedded: Based on practice of research (different from other qualifications) Highly individual programmes undertaken by independent researchers, requires flexibility Developed by autonomous but accountable institutions which cultivate research mindset, requires flexibility in approach and regulation Ten principles – e.g. Number 1 “The core component of doctoral training is the advancement of knowledge through original research.”

8 UK Student Numbers Ten years to 2011: UG 20% increase PG 30% increase
PGT increase larger than PGR increase PG Totals 2011: PGR ~109, (20%) PGT ~459,000 (80%) Change in HESA method in 2007/08 – remove “writing up” students

9 UK PG Student Numbers: Some Trends
Plateau in UK-domiciled research student numbers Last decade seen large increase in international research students Many institutional strategies set ambitious targets for PGR student growth Increasing regulation by Border Control Agency Reducing funding available for postgraduate research student support Increasing use of Doctoral Training Centre approach Concentration of Research Council funding on smaller number of institutions

10 PG Student Composition Some Trends
Massification Driven by economic growth considerations and “knowledge economies”. Many governments want Higher Education to cover substantial proportions of their populations. Diversification People entering HE from large range of backgrounds – many have no tradition of HE Internationalisation Growing recognition of value of incorporating large range of nationals into institution. Preparing workforce for international working Concentration Creation of Doctoral Training Centres

11 The UK Doctoral Journey
Evolution of the PhD Significant increase in formal requirements of HEFCE QAA RCUK Border Agency Greater clarity and explicit statements about nature and purpose of PhD Shift from doing research to training researcher Considerably more structure to PhD “Structured PhD” However... Original research still key element of PhD

12 UK External Priorities for the PhD?
What are stakeholders priorities? Are they clear and consistent? Tensions?

13 Recent Statements by PhD Sponsors
BIS Statement RCUK Statement Research Councils’ Delivery Plans These suggest: Longer periods of funding for studentships Closer examination of submission rates Internships likely to become an integral part of PhD Employability high on agenda Smaller number of fellowships – focussed on future “research leaders” Continued movement towards research concentration Only applies to “home” students, international students? What does the future have in store?

14 The Times Higher 17 January 2003
PhD – Old View The Times Higher 17 January 2003 “Skills development, and a belief in skills transferability, is key to reconceptualising the PhD as generic vocational training.” “If graduates are really to undergo generic employment skill development, the PhD is probably an inefficient means of achieving this end. But if Universities are to make a contribution to knowledge, and if this is what the PhD student is embarking on, this should be the focus of PhD programmes.”

15 Doctorateness – What is it?
Doctorateness – an elusive concept? Published March 2010 “This paper explores the changing nature of doctoral education in the UK, and poses some important questions about what we mean by the term 'doctorateness', the quality that at least in principle all doctoral awards (of all types and in all disciplines) should have in common and all doctoral candidates should be able to demonstrate.” “Many commentators and observers believe that the time is right and the sector is ready for a national debate in the UK on the nature of the doctorate, given the multiple drivers for change, multiple agendas at work, and the multiple stakeholders with an interest in both the debate and the outcome.”

16 What is a Durham PhD? By Thesis:
Candidates are required to demonstrate the ability to conduct original investigations, to test or explore ideas / hypotheses (whether their own or those of others), and to understand the relationship of the theme of their investigations to a wider field of knowledge. The thesis should include an original and significant contribution to knowledge, for example through the discovery of new knowledge, the connection of previously unrelated facts, the development of new theory, or a new analysis of older views. It should also include substantial matter worthy of publication, though it need not be submitted in a form suitable for publication Durham University Regulations

17 What is a PhD? UK defined in QAA Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (UK – Institutional Autonomy) Many countries – defined in national legislation Deeply held views about issues such as Student or staff? Role of Doctoral or Graduate Schools Embedded or separate in institution Location of PG students – “ownership” Governance arrangements Mainstream / core or fringe activity? Who are supervisors? Recognition, status, work loads, cohorts?

18 Fit for purpose – What purpose?
Planning the academic workforce – sustainability Range of skills – research plus? Working in a “knowledge economy” More than an academic qualification?

19 Some concerns – the traditional view
“It’s not appropriate” – the PhD is about research Misconceived – what are “employment skills”? Additional burden – for students and staff Could affect academic standards – downgrade PhD Insufficient time in 3-4 years However – growing consensus about value of PhD. Skills acquired are as valuable as knowledge.

20 Purpose of research training? Place in PhD? Role of supervisor?
Best research is done by the best researchers How do you train the best researchers? Knowledge Behaviours Researchers identify behaviours from peers and “leaders” Training helps develop effective behaviours Researchers also need training and mentoring with good roles models Training challenges some of paradigms of academia What are added benefits of “structure”?

21 Mixed messages in media...
“There are some important dos and don’ts to bear in mind when choosing someone to oversee your doctoral thesis, advises Tara Brabazon – the foremost being don’t let the supervisors grind you down.” 11 July 2013

22 UK Council for Graduate Education
Two recent reports (2009, 2010): Summarise progress in sector with data

23 What do PhD researchers think?
UK national survey run by UK Higher Education Academy PRES – Postgraduate Research Experience Survey Based on Australian PREQ (Postgraduate Research Experience Questionnaire) survey ...

24 PRES 2013 Participation 122 HEIs – [48,400 PGRs , 41.9%]
Significant redesign from 2011 shorter, consistent scales, more emphasis on research skills and professional development Overall satisfaction levels high 82% for research students ⇧ Research skills development highest levels of satisfaction 85% Students positive about supervisors’ skills and subject knowledge 24

25 PRES cont’d However... No evidence of significant difference with training in DTC or non-DTC environments Wider training Professional Development opportunities low: STEM 54%, SS 34%, A&H 37% received wider training Supervision and skills development have largest impact on satisfaction (more so than new resources) One (relevant) conclusion: Investing in supervisor development and professional skills development will have biggest impact on satisfaction levels of PhD students (More impact than new buildings, etc. ) 25

26 What is doing research really like?
One possible myth: Many new research students assume, understandably, that the process of research is similar to the way that it is written up in publications


28 However, published work:
...present[s] a mythical reconstruction of what actually happened. All of what are in retrospect mistaken ideas, badly designed experiments, and incorrect calculations are omitted. The paper presents the research as if it is carefully thought out, planned and executed according to a neat rigorous process. B. Martin, “Scientific Fraud and the Power Structure of Science”, Prometheus, 10 (1992)

29 In practice… In reality….

30 Moreover, research problems can happen to anybody….
? One example is of a person who did not do very well in his undergraduate degree, but one of his professors recognised that he had talent and enrolled him in a PhD programme. After two years, he submitted a thesis for his doctorate, which was turned down because it was deemed to be insufficiently original. Subsequently, he had no alternative but to get a job working in a patent office and continue his studies part-time and unsupervised. Three years later he presented his second thesis, on a different area of the subject, and that was turned down as well on the ground of insufficient originality. He then enrolled at another university, and a year later submitted another thesis, which was also turned down on the ground that there was not enough experimental evidence to support his conclusions. Finally, he put in a thesis which was deemed to be an original contribution to knowledge and understanding and which had experimental results, but was told that it was too long for a doctorate. According to his own account, he cut one word from it, re-submitted, and on the fourth attempt finally gained his PhD.

31 Why can early-career researchers find research problematic?
Students’ experience of transition to independent doctoral research is marked by a radical break with…knowledge-reproduction...students now have to learn craft skills and cultural competencies which are not part of the undergraduate [or taught postgraduate] experience. They have to learn how to cope with experiments that do not work. They have to cope on their own ‘in the field’, away from the relative safety of the classroom or the seminar. They have to rely upon their personal resources. S. Delamont, P. Atkinson, and O. Parry, “The Doctoral Experience: Success and Failure in Graduate School”, London: Falmer, (2000) p2

32 Courtesy of Stan Taylor

33 Common problems Drifting from the topic
Difficulties with the methodology/methods Frustration with the substantive research Inconsistencies in findings Seeing the wood for the trees.

34 What can you do? 1) regularly self-review your progress
what did I plan to achieve by this stage of my research? what have I actually achieved? am I slipping behind? how can I make up the time?

35 What can you do? 2) acknowledge the existence of a problem
“ As an undergraduate or Masters' student, you may have sailed through with effortless brilliance and it can be an immense shock to encounter problems, and acknowledging them can be seen as weakness or failure. This is known as….....

36 ‘Top gun’ syndrome ...students are seen…as the best and the brightest. Significant academic achievement has led them to their current place. They are thus unable to admit faults or shortcomings for fear of “showing themselves up” in the...academic community. It becomes better to struggle on with barely a clue about what is going on than to admit...that one does not know what is happening. Atkins, D. (1996) Supervision: A Student Perspective. Centre for Educational Development and Academic Methods and Graduate School, Australian National University. (accessed 14th June 2014).

37 What can you do? 3) seek help
You can: explain the problem to a fellow-student, preferably one more advanced in his or her studies, or if appropriate a post-doc – often they have experienced similar problems and will be able to help you out; go to see your supervisors, tell them that you are stuck, tell them why, and ask them for suggestions.

38 Beware? Published accounts do not necessarily accurately represent the process of research; Research is often a messy business, with two steps forward, one backwards, and a few sideways; Learning to cope with these difficulties is all part and parcel of becoming an independent researcher, but that does not mean to say that you must cope entirely on your own.

39 Don’t… put yourselves in the position of the doctoral students interviewed by Becher et al. who were ‘ sea to the point of having to give up, without anyone being aware of their plight.’ Remember that research by Ahern and Manathunga (2004) and Manathunga (2005) suggests that students who get stuck and procrastinate are far more likely not to complete their doctoral programmes, or if they do so to take much longer to complete. T. Becher, M. Henkel, and M. Kogan, (1994), Graduate Education in Britain. London: Jessica Kingsley, p149 K. Ahern and C. Manathunga, “Clutch-Starting Stalled Research Students”, Innovative Higher Education, 28 (2004) pp C. Manathunga, “Early warning signs in postgraduate research education: a different approach to ensuring timely completions”, Teaching in Higher Education, 10 (2005) pp

40 Do Self-review your progress;
If you are falling behind, try to develop a strategy to catch up; If it is not working, acknowledge that there is a problem; If you can’t solve it, seek help

41 VERY Important to… Establish good relations with your supervisor;
Be clear at the start as to what you can expect from them and what they can expect from you.

42 Remember… No right answers – will depend on individuals, research projects, and disciplines But important to know where you stand on these matters and to discuss them with your supervisors so that all of you have a clear idea of what you can expect from each other.

43 For…. You need to sort out a good working relationship with your supervis[ors]. Relationships have to be worked at and discussed, because most of the [later] problems stem from a failure to set out the expectations both parties have for the relationship. A few [minutes] devoted to discussing the best ways to work together will not be wasted. S. Delamont, P. Atkinson, and O. Parry, O. (1997) Supervising the PhD: A Guide to Success, Buckingham, Open University Press. 2nd Ed. (2004) pp.14

44 Supervisors From the QAA Quality Code (section B11) June 2012
Indicator 9 Higher education providers appoint supervisors with the appropriate skills and subject knowledge to support and encourage research students, and to monitor their progress effectively.

45 This means?... Criteria for eligibility in appointing supervisors
Performance in the role is kept under review Supervisors expected to engage in development Supervisor training and development opportunities are relevant to research education In supporting supervisors to enhance their knowledge and skills, higher education providers define and enable sharing of good practice and encourage strategies such as mentoring relationships, for example for new supervisors. Supervisors working in industry or professional practice are also required to participate

46 Guidance may include: providing satisfactory guidance and advice;
being responsible for monitoring the progress of the student's research programme; establishing and maintaining regular contact with the student (where appropriate, guided by institutional expectations), and ensuring his/her accessibility to the student when s/he needs advice, by whatever means is most suitable given the student's location and mode of study; having input into the assessment of a student's development needs; providing timely, constructive and effective feedback on the student's work, including his/her overall progress within the programme; ensuring that the student is aware of the need to exercise probity and conduct his/her research according to ethical principles, and of the implications of research misconduct; ensuring that the student is aware of institutional-level sources of advice, including careers guidance, health and safety legislation and equal opportunities policy; providing effective pastoral support and/or referring the student to other sources of such support, including student advisers (or equivalent), graduate school staff and others within the student's academic community; helping the student to interact with others working in the field of research, for example, encouraging the student to attend relevant conferences, supporting him/her in seeking funding for such events; and where appropriate to submit conference papers and articles to refereed journals; maintaining the necessary supervisory expertise, including the appropriate skills, to perform all of the role satisfactorily, supported by relevant continuing professional development opportunities.

47 There is a lot of information...
What is essential for supervisors? What do they want to know? What is the best way to present this information? What framework supports their understanding of this? Requires a structure

48 The Durham approach... to be aware of the external context of supervision; to be aware of the institutional context for doctoral supervision, including expectations of supervisors and students, retention and completion, and employability; to be aware of the pedagogical context, including the skills needed to supervise a much more diverse student population; to be aware of the programme context, including the skills needed to supervise different types of doctorates (Professional, Industrial etc...) ... and best practice in their disciplines

49 Good supervision depends on...
Knowledge and understanding of the broader context Knowledge and understanding of the institution, its standards, codes of practice, rules, regulations for research degrees Knowledge and understanding of the pedagogy of research supervision Knowledge and understanding of good practice within your discipline in addition to: Knowledge of the academic discipline

50 Paradigms of supervisory styles
Structure Who is responsible for organising and managing the research project Support Who is responsible for supporting the candidate and the resourcing of the project Rate “Structure” and “Support” as low or high

51 Gatfield’s Paradigm of Supervisory Styles
Pastoral Contractual Laisser-faire Directorial high Support low high low Structure From: “A Handbook for Doctoral Supervisors” Stan Taylor and Nigel Beasley (Routledge)

52 Supervisory style and student needs
Laisser Faire Assumes student capable of managing both project and themselves Pastoral Assumes student capable of managing project but needs personal support/encouragement Directorial Assumes student not capable of managing research project but can manage themselves Contractual Assumes student needs high levels of academic and pastoral support

53 Achieving congruence between style and needs
Each student will have a different set of needs How do you identify what these are? How do you match your style to student needs? What does the student want? Tools for achieving this “Brown and Atkins” rating scale Importance of PhD candidate – supervisor relationship

54 Dynamics of supervisory styles over time
...the supervisory style needs to be adjusted to a more hands-off approach to allow competent autonomy to be developed... Unfortunately, in some cases, supervisors adopt a static supervisory approach, or if it is altered, this may not be done in alignment with the growth and emerging needs of the student but on the basis of a teacher-centred (“I known what is best for the student”) dogma. Gurr (2001: 86-87) Gurr, G. (2001) Negotiating the “Rackety Bridge” – a Dynamic Model for Aligning Supervisory Style with Research Student Development. Higher Education, 34(1):

55 Demands on supervisors
Competition Publications HR Issues Student numbers E- Learning Resources Funding Fees Research Management Experience Learning & Teaching PhDs Expansion REF2014 Marketing Governance Internationalisation Supervising Key Issues: Staff engagement

56 Demands on supervisors
Most appropriate method for supporting the initial and continuing professional development of doctoral supervisors? Balancing demands on supervisor time Adding value

57 Institutional Responsibility?
What should be your institutional response to this? Structures to support supervisors and researchers Graduate School – cost in time of austerity? Bologna process requires “Graduate School” (UK) HEFCE and QAA requirement for minimum standards Institutional Specialisation: Level of focus on PhD programmes, Masters programmes or both? Importance of economic drivers? How to build on training strengths already in place? Institutional culture for supervisors: Support, recognition, value?

58 Concluding Themes Future environment requires ongoing change
Drivers for change mainly external to HEIs (UK) Nature of PhD qualification Diversity in HE sector Sustainability of supervisor training: Lots of good activity across sector Have perceptions and behaviours changed? Is good supervision valued and recognised? Is wider training fully embedded – integral? What is the best role of training (face to face, virtual, blended etc.)

59 Thank you for you attention Mary Immaculate College
Research Showcase 2 September 2014

60 Acknowledgements Dr Lowry McComb, Director of Postgraduate Training
Dr Stan Taylor, Academic Staff Development Officer Professor Liz Burd, Deputy Dean, Professor Chris Gerrard, Deputy Dean Dr Robert Carver, Deputy Dean Colleagues from: UK Council for Graduate Education Quality Assurance Agency

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