Reflections on the Uses of the Academic Journal in Socialization of the New Scholar

By Syed, Syraj; Poston-Escue, Carlee | Florida Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, Winter 2009 | Go to article overview

Reflections on the Uses of the Academic Journal in Socialization of the New Scholar


Syed, Syraj, Poston-Escue, Carlee, Florida Journal of Educational Administration and Policy


A Learning Oasis in a Desert of Rigor

In recent years, the effectiveness and relevance of graduate programs in education have come under heavy scrutiny from education scholars and professionals alike. The tenor of this scrutiny, with regard to programs preparing both academic researchers and practitioners, has largely been sourced in the desire for more adequate socialization of individuals toward their respective career environments. In the same capacity as practicing school leaders seek professionals who will be able to directly translate scholarship to practice, on demand, within the rigors of the field; so too do the members of the professoriate seek appropriate individuals to maintain their ranks and carry on the tradition of stewardship of the disciplines.

Such a task of stewardship, however, requires a nuanced understanding of the culture of the academy; an understanding that is not always readily attainable given the conditions of academic departments, especially in the social sciences, and more so within research intensive institutions. It is these climates that tend to require the fledgling doctoral student, a budding scholar in his or her own right, to be confidently self-directed, as the contravening forces of curricular prescription and faculty research agendas often leave the doctoral student without a clear sense of what it means to be a scholar. There is ample opportunity to glean an understanding of "what to do," but not so much in the way of knowing "how to be."

Throughout the process of conceptualizing, planning, and publishing the Florida Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, the authors maintained an awareness of this journal not only as a communication modality for scholarship in education, but also as a form of identity for the doctoral students within and on the periphery of the Department of Education Administration and Policy. The journal was originally conceived as a creative outlet for doctoral students, who would staff the editorial positions and maintain oversight for the recruitment of manuscript reviewers, solicit manuscripts from a growing base of scholars, conduct an ongoing marketing campaign to grow readership, and build the journal brand. As it turns out, the journal grew into much more than we had originally anticipated.

Throughout this process, the authors sought to consider students' perceptions of available programmatic opportunities to gain an in-depth understanding of the social mores of scholarship, how effective experiential learning is toward this end, and what effect their participation in a learning community may have on their socialization into the academy.

Learning Within the Community

Student learning communities possess the great potential to connect diverse student experiences and ways of knowing with curricular objectives. A student's involvement in a learning community can affirm his or her diverse student voice.

Adult learners' cultural orientation toward freedom of choice and customization of processes to best suit personal needs can be seen as a platform for learning innovation if academic faculty can collaborate to channel this energy in the right direction. The utilization of an iconic paradigm such as the academic journal as a structured learning community can open new doors toward the effective preparation of stewards of the academic disciplines.

Though academic faculty prepare doctoral students for employment in research universities, most employment can actually be found elsewhere in academe and in the private and public sectors beyond the walls of academic institutions. Though students often commence doctoral education because they desire to teach, very little in the doctoral process exists to help these individuals become scholars of teaching and learning. Students do not fully understand the demands that will be made upon them to earn the Ph.D. With existing faculty as models, students develop very traditional aspirations for becoming faculty, exhibiting little awareness of external opportunities for careers and the opportunity, even as academics, to connect their expertise to social need. …

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