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Terra Sprague, Lizzi Milligan & Guy Le Fanu Building the CV? Embedding Employability and the Changing Nature of Doctoral Research The Third Annual ESCalate.

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Presentation on theme: "Terra Sprague, Lizzi Milligan & Guy Le Fanu Building the CV? Embedding Employability and the Changing Nature of Doctoral Research The Third Annual ESCalate."— Presentation transcript:

1 Terra Sprague, Lizzi Milligan & Guy Le Fanu Building the CV? Embedding Employability and the Changing Nature of Doctoral Research The Third Annual ESCalate Conference,11 April 2011

2 Project Origins 3 Doctoral Students with similar experience 1 Supervisor Shared curiosity about Doctoral Student Engagement: Publishing Teaching Researching

3 Research Questions What career-preparation / academic activities are students engaged in outside of their doctoral research? What has prompted students to engage in these activities? To what extent might this facilitate, contribute to or hinder their own research?

4 Background: Changing Nature of the Doctoral Experience Increased embedding of employability by universities in doctoral programmes (Metcalfe & Gray, 2005; Park, 2005) But... Crucial role played by supervisors in shaping the doctoral experience (Barnes & Austin, 2009; Brightman, 2009) Resistance among some students to employability agenda (Brailsford, 2010; Owler, 2010) Impact of other factors on doctoral experience (Malfroy, 2005; Pearson, Evans, & Macauley, 2008) 4

5 Methodology 1 st Year2 nd Year4 th Year Two focus groups with doctoral research students at the University of Bristol Graduate School of Education 5 What types of activities do you participate in aside from your doctoral research? What are your motivations for doing these activities? What role does your supervisor play in this? Key: Home Student, International Student, International Student

6 Methodology Reflection among the research team drawing on own experiences as doctoral students –Interpretive Perspective

7 Methodology Thematic analysis of motivations using a quartile mapping system Intrinsic/Research Social Career Financial

8 The research student experience is unique and individually tailored Each student experience is unique and defined by wide range in level of engagement in activities, driven by differing: –motivations for undertaking the Doctorate; –Attention paid to future plans; and –Personal feelings towards own research and purpose of research more generally. 8 I chose to do a PhD for a lot of reasons…but from a pragmatic point of view I hope there is a job at the end of it…hopefully an academic one

9 Many students engage in a wide range of activities For those who do engage in a range of activities, the most popular are seminar, workshop and conference attendance Others include: –Presenting at conferences, research assistantships, publishing, teaching, related part- time work 9 I go to seminars, workshops, conferences because I feel it is what a PhD student does. As a student, its my responsibility, like it was at masters level to go to lectures

10 10 Building the CV is a significant factor in engaging in these activities for some students... Im feeling increasingly worried about what happens after the PhD...Im definitely looking to build my CV in whatever way I can alongside my own research with more than half an eye on what comes next... I do them for the experience, and also they look good for my CV [and] for my own curiosity, I want to explore and be exposed to different people and topics … to get paid or put things on the CV are by- products, theyre not the aim. My reason for wanting to do them is always experience or interest in the first instance

11 ...But it is not the only one Wide range of motivations for taking part in the many activities, including: –Social interaction; –To enhance own research; –Expectations of funders; and –Its what a PhD student does; 11 I usually only do other activities which are related to my research … to give me some inspiration … Im always thinking about my own research project.. Im part of a team [that are funded] and there are certain commitments that we have to fulfil … but apart from that its also for my work and my own professional development And motivations are multiple and related

12 Supervisor promotion of career development is far from uniform Some supervisors are very proactive in identifying opportunities and promoting career development, others are less so; 12 My supervisor never gives me information about seminars or conferences or anything like that. I look for them myself and if I need a supervisor signature I go to them and ask for it … When I started my PhD my supervisor drew me a timeline … she said that if I wanted to publish by the end of my PhD, I needed a timeline for when I needed to start having ideas, how long it would take to publish

13 There is disagreement among students about what exactly the supervisors role in this should be I dont think the supervisor has responsibility for [career development], I think they could give suggestions, help you if you ask them [about conferences and publishing] how can I get there, how can I do this … they can encourage you if you want to do these things, but theyre not responsible for it I like to have my supervisors suggestions or directions or what sort of conference I should target on … but I like to be the person who takes the initiative myself. I wouldnt want my supervisor to say do this, do that Its their job

14 ...again, flexibility and an individually-tailored relationship are key 14 Its like a dance between the student and the teacher for them to understand each other. Part of the students responsibility is to take the initiative to say Im thinking in this way and I hope I can achieve this and the teacher can respond to those thinkings and say you might want to do this or read this. But, the teacher can also take some initiative to say that you might be interested in this … overall, its about the quality of the communication For your career into the academic world, each student is different in their vision to do something. For me, its not possible to do any thinking about publishing at the moment if my supervisor advised me to follow a timeline, Id feel more stressed

15 ...and could be an area for potential further research Embedding employability - More important for home students in the current climate? What is the supervisors role and is it changing? How prescriptive should it be? 15

16 What could be the implications of a move to an emphasis on embedding employability? If there is a shift towards embedding employability as part of the doctoral experience, there are some concerns that: It may not be right for everyone; and could impact on quality of the research process and experience. 16

17 References Barnes, B.J., & Austin, A.E. (2009). The role of doctoral advisors: A look at advising from the advisors perspective. Innovative Higher Education, 33(5), Brailsford, I. (2010). Motives and aspirations for doctoral study: Career, personal, and inter-personal factors in the decision to embark on a History PhD. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 5, Brightman, H.J. (2009). The need for teaching doctoral students how to teach. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 4, Malfroy, J. (2005). Doctoral supervision, workplace research and development. Higher Education Research & Development, 24(2),

18 References Metcalfe, J., & Gray, A. (2005). Learning & employability: Series Two. Employability and doctoral research postgraduates. York, United Kingdom: The Higher Education Academy. Owler, K. (2010). A 'problem' to be managed? Completing a PhD in the Arts and Humanities. Arts and Humanities in Higher Education, 9(3), Park, C. (2005). New variant PhD: The changing nature of the doctorate in the UK. Journal of Higher Education Policy & Management, 27(2), Pearson, M., Evans, T., Macauley, P. (2008). Growth and diversity in doctoral education: Assessing the Australian experience. Higher Education, 55(3),

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