ERIC Number: EJ1178020
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Abstractor: As Provided
Doctoral Supervision: Facilitating Access to a Community of Research Practice?
African Journal of Research in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, v14 n2 p96-109 2010
Supervision lies at the heart of PhD pedagogy, but the focus has been on improving efficiency and completion rates of the PhD process rather than theorising about the nature of the postgraduate supervision process. The study explores the usefulness of situated learning as a theoretical framework for thinking about PhD pedagogy. In the process, Petersen's conception of supervision as boundary work is investigated: the study considers the extent to which the construct of the supervisor as facilitator of the negotiation of the boundaries around the research community of practice gives helpful insights. Six PhD supervisors from an engineering department at a research intensive South African university were interviewed, using a semi-structured interview guide. Thirteen of their PhD students completed an open-ended questionnaire. The transcribed interviews and the questionnaires were analysed to identify categories relating to the elements of the situated learning framework. Conference participation and paper publication are explored as legitimate peripheral activities in which PhD students participate in order to gain access to the community. An important result uncovered in the study is the high premium placed on the PhD student's ability to work independently. This insistence on autonomy set up tension with the different elements of the situated learning framework. The study also hinted at issues of power possibly linked to the matter of 'competent autonomy' prized in doctoral students. This possibly presents the greatest constraint for the use of situated learning as a theoretical framework, and some suggestions are made for mitigating this limitation.
Descriptors: Graduate Students, Doctoral Programs, Supervision, Communities of Practice, Supervisors, Facilitators (Individuals), Engineering Education, Research Universities, Semi Structured Interviews, Questionnaires, Learning Processes, Student Participation, Conferences (Gatherings), Writing for Publication, Independent Study, Personal Autonomy, Supervisor Supervisee Relationship, Power Structure
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A