Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Learning and Assessment Practices of Doctoral Studies of Developing and Developed Countries: A Case Study of Doctoral Studies in Bangladesh

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Learning and Assessment Practices of Doctoral Studies of Developing and Developed Countries: A Case Study of Doctoral Studies in Bangladesh

Article excerpt

Introduction

Since the inception of the information age, employees in both developed and developing countries have become 'knowledge workers'. In their work, knowledge workers apply knowledge as well as skills, while labour is provided by tools and machines (Maclean & Wilson, 2009). Contemporary employees require appropriate knowledge to be able to share this knowledge through their advanced skills. Hence, an advanced university education is pivotal. However, the education of knowledge workers does not end with a tertiary degree; learning is lifelong. The journey of lifelong learning has four phases: 1) knowing where we are now; 2) knowing where we need to be; 3) knowing how to get there; and 4) knowing that we have got there (Tovey & Lawlor, 2008). Therefore, an individual should know what learning processes they need to embrace and, most importantly, the assessments they need to complete to become qualified for the next stage in their learning.

Recent studies show that the nature of doctoral studies has changed remarkably. The drivers of change are competition, consumerism, and corporatism (Naidoo & Jamienson, 2007, p. 363). Universities offering Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programmes are now reviewing these changes both locally and globally. One of the emerging issues is the learning and assessment practices of traditional PhD models. Jones's (2013) study indicates a paucity of research into the learning and assessment of PhD programmes (p. 6). As a result, many PhD graduates--especially those from developing countries--are finding themselves unemployed. If this continues, fewer skilled and knowledgeable PhD graduates--in other words, successful researchers--will qualify, particularly in developing countries.

This discussion paper is exploratory. It aims to investigate why the existing learning and assessment practices of doctoral studies in Bangladesh need to be redesigned. The paper is significant because it comprises the initial research prior to more conclusive research into the learning and assessment practices of doctoral studies in Bangladesh. This paper will help to close a knowledge gap by providing significant insights into the area of learning and assessment practices of PhD programmes in developing countries.

To explore the present learning and assessment practices of PhD programmes in Bangladesh, this paper will first conduct a critical evaluation of the extant literature on the doctoral studies of developed countries. The study seeks to address some of the noteworthy research findings that stipulate ongoing practices as well as the shortcomings of the traditional academic PhD models of developed countries. Next, the paper will discuss some major challenges faced by developing countries that offer PhD programmes. Further, by discussing doctoral studies in developing countries, the paper will attempt to introduce some issues of concern, such as China, Singapore, and Africa. Then, Bangladesh--as one representative of a developing country--will be used as a case study.

The initial discussion aims to identify the overall enrolment growth of higher education programmes, including doctoral studies in Bangladesh. The paper will review three different Bangladeshi universities to explore their current learning and assessment processes for PhD programmes. At the end of this section, the paper will conduct a comparative analysis that will present some of the common practices as well as the differences in terms of learning and assessment practices of doctoral studies in developing and developed countries. Next, the paper will attempt to explain the theoretical framework by incorporating four different theories: 1) Bozeman, Dietz and Gaughan's (2001) theory of social and technical human capital; 2) Levine's (2007) nine-point template; 3) Lovitts's (2005) study; and 4) Leech's (2012) model. The study will examine the strengths and weaknesses of each of these theories in conjunction with the issues identified in the learning and assessment practices of doctoral studies in developed and developing countries. …

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