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© University of Reading 2006www.reading.ac.ukApril 25, 2014 Professor Pam Denicolo Examining the Doctorate: Product or Person?

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Presentation on theme: "© University of Reading 2006www.reading.ac.ukApril 25, 2014 Professor Pam Denicolo Examining the Doctorate: Product or Person?"— Presentation transcript:

1 © University of Reading 2006www.reading.ac.ukApril 25, 2014 Professor Pam Denicolo Examining the Doctorate: Product or Person?

2 HEA 2020 Vision British Library Nov Shifts of Focus Doctoral graduates: How shall we know them? Acknowledging D. Rowntree, and participants in UKCGE and Vitae workshops Which is the figure and which the ground: Postgraduate Research ……..Doctoral Education? The thesis as product………the development of a researcher as process? ……………. Identifying the issues

3 HEA 2020 Vision British Library Nov The Traditional Examination Common practice in assessment/examination : Detailed review of the thesis Some form of Viva Voce General criteria related to demonstration of: advanced knowledge; originality; critical, independent thinking; publishability. Variations between institutions and countries on: emphasis, detail, format and procedures. Are equivalence, comparability, consistency being maintained through these means or do we need new forms anyway?

4 HEA 2020 Vision British Library Nov A Context of Change and Diversity Broadening of the taught component (generic, transferable skills as well as research methods) Recognition that there are different kinds of knowledge (theoretical, procedural, action, tacit/expert,…) Diversity of students and modes of study Acknowledgement of different purposes for study, different career aspirations Expanding range of doctoral qualifications Increase in trans-disciplinary research How can these developments be accommodated within doctoral assessment whilst maintaining standards?

5 HEA 2020 Vision British Library Nov Frameworks for Quality and Standards Proliferation of attempts to define the attributes of doctoral graduates to achieve common reference levels from Dublin Descriptors (2004) and Towards a European Qualifications Framework (2005) to QAA 2008 review of the Framework for higher education qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Some common agreement emerging, alongside further questions about appropriateness of examination/assessment forms.

6 HEA 2020 Vision British Library Nov Attributes/ Learning outcomes In addition to producing an original contribution to knowledge, there seems to be general agreement that doctoral graduates should demonstrate: Knowledge: specialist and advanced; discipline and research related; theoretical and procedural. Aptitudes: e.g. ability to analyse critically and work independently and creatively; mastery of skills such as communication and team working. Attitudes: e.g. commitment to an ethical approach to research. Are all of these best demonstrated and hence assessed through the thesis and viva, as products?

7 HEA 2020 Vision British Library Nov The Doctorate as a Personal Development Process Doing research and learning to be a researcher both take considerable time and benefit from supportive feedback. Adult learning theories suggest that assessment should be formative as well as summative, incorporating continuous as well as final examination. Most Institutions implement some progression rules. Would it help to assess skills and attitudes separately from research outcomes, as personal development through process? What form should such assessment take and how would the results contribute to the final decision?

8 HEA 2020 Vision British Library Nov Implications of Assessment Review Rather than add to the diversity of the situation and in order to maintain or increase equivalence, comparability, consistency, there needs to be a commitment to coordinate developments across the sector – a substantial enterprise. Do examiners expectations need to be re-framed, with criteria made more explicit for candidates, supervisors and examiners?

9 HEA 2020 Vision British Library Nov Summary of questions for debate 1. Are equivalence, comparability, consistency being maintained through traditional means or do we need new forms anyway? 2. How can developments in target population, modes of study, qualifications, skills, and topics be accommodated within doctoral assessment whilst maintaining standards? 3. Are all the required attributes best demonstrated and hence assessed through the thesis and viva, as final products? 4. Would it help to assess skills and attitudes separately from research outcomes, as personal development through process? What form should such assessment take and how would the results contribute to the final decision? 5. Do examiners expectations need to be re-framed, with criteria made more explicit for all?


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