Academic journal article International Journal of Doctoral Studies

Towards "Operating Within" the Field: Doctoral Students' Views of Supervisors' Discipline Expertise

Academic journal article International Journal of Doctoral Studies

Towards "Operating Within" the Field: Doctoral Students' Views of Supervisors' Discipline Expertise

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Aim/Purpose        This paper considers the role of supervisors'
                   discipline expertise in doctoral learning from
                   a student perspective.
Background         Doctoral students need to develop expertise in a
                   particular field of study. In this context,
                   developing expertise requires doctoral students
                   to master disciplinary knowledge, conventions and
                   scholarship under the guidance of supervisors.
Methodology        The study draws on a mixed-method approach, using an
                   conducted online survey and semi-structured
                   interviews with doctoral students.
Contribution       The paper brings to the fore the role of supervisors'
                   discipline expertise on doctoral students' research
                   progress.
Findings           The survey data suggest that doctoral students
                   nominate their supervisors on the basis of their
                   discipline expertise. They also view supervisors'
                   expertise as key to the development of 'insider'
                   knowledge of their doctoral research.
Recommendations    Supervisors play a pivotal role in helping doctoral
for Practitioners  students overcome intellectual barriers by imparting
                   their discipline knowledge as well as balancing
                   satisfactory doctoral completion rate and high
                   quality student experience.
Impact on Society  Doctoral supervision equips doctoral students with
                   the right arsenal to be able to competently operate
                   within their field and prepares them for their
                   future research or professional career that demands
                   a high level of discipline expertise.
Future Research    The scope of the findings leaves open a discussion
                   about the experiences of doctoral students matched
                   with non-discipline expert supervisory teams; for
                   example, the extent of the mismatch and its
                   ramifications.
Keywords           discipline expertise, research expertise, doctoral
                   students, PhD students, supervisors, doctoral
                   learning support, student-supervisor fit

INTRODUCTION

Where research output and on-time completion among doctoral students are increasingly emphasized, recent directives to review Australia's research training system that aims at assessing the "capacity for learned inquiry innovation and productivity" (Department of Education and Training, 2015, para. 4) receive no less attention. These directives to reframe the status of supervision are linked to an array of supervision styles and doctoral students' expectations (Halse & Malfroy, 2010). Against this backdrop, our work considers the role of supervisors' discipline expertise in doctoral learning from a student perspective. While it is valuable to evaluate how the development of discipline expertise may be brought to the wider labor market in the longer term, a more immediate challenge would be to investigate supervisors' role in helping students master a disciplinary area through original research. This consideration is based on a broad goal of doctoral education in developing one's expertise in a field of study. Such a goal is accomplished in the context of research supervision. Although the alignment between the research interests of doctoral students and supervisors is often desirable (Moxham, Dwyer & Reid-Searl, 2013), matching the research expertise between supervisors and doctoral students can be challenging partly due to the rising number and diversity of students enrolled in postgraduate research programs (McCallin & Nayar, 2012). So far, few studies clarify how supervisors' discipline expertise contributes to doctoral students' learning process. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.