22 SES 09 C, Reform Programs and Faculty Staff
Doctoral degrees constitute a small percentage of postsecondary degrees awarded each year, but the demand for doctoral education increases (Altbach, 2006; OECD, 2010) with a growth of 38 percent from the year of 2000 (154,000) to 2009 (213,000) in the OECD countries (Auriol, Misu, & Freeman, 2013). However, the challenges of doctoral students on the path towards degree completion have been an issue of concern in numerous countries, especially in terms of funding, duration of doctoral studies, quality of supervision, and future employment (Kehm, 2005). Among doctoral students in the United States, nearly half who begin a program fail to complete; some students can take a decade to complete their doctorate (Gardner, 2008; Wendler, Bridgeman, Cline, Millett, Rock, Bell, & McAllister, 2010). The matter of time-to degree among doctoral recipients is also a problem for European universities (Kehm, 2006).
As a result of these concerns, establishing supportive strategies for student retention and degree completion is increasingly stressed (Kehm, 2006). As one example, the PhD Completion Project (led by the US Council of Graduate Schools) focuses on doctoral students in American and Canadian institutions. In the PhD Completion Project, six institutional and program characteristics are addressed as fundamental factors that can affect the success of doctoral student process. These factors are student selection and admission, mentoring and advising, financial support system, program environment, research experience, and institutional processes and procedures (Council of Graduate Programs, 2010). In addition to large-scale efforts, research about similar programs launched by specific academic institutions is also of interest (i.e., Holley & Caldwell, 2012).
In Turkey, with a similar trend of OECD countries, growing attention has also been paid to graduate education with a dramatic increase in doctoral recipients (65% from 2002 to 2012). Part of this growth stems from the establishment of new universities. In roughly the same time period, a 55% increase in the total number of Turkish higher education institutions can be documented (Çetinsaya, 2014). As a result of institutional growth, universities across Turkey are in need of new faculty members. One recent report calls for 15,000 doctoral graduates annually to meet the needs of Turkish higher education (Cetinsaya, 2014). Despite the rapid growth in doctoral recipients, currently the number of doctoral graduates numbers 4,500 annually. As a requirement of the Bologna Declaration of 1999 and Lisbon Strategy of 2000, the development of innovative and rigorous doctoral programs is necessary to the strength and competitiveness of European higher education more broadly (Kehm, 2006).
In order to meet this demand, and drawing from research and best practices in other national contexts, a university network project called “Ogretim Uyesi Yetistirme Programı” (Faculty Development Program) was initiated in 2001 with a purpose of advancing the quality of research and education, solving the problem of faculty shortage, and disseminating academic knowledge across universities through new graduates from qualified Turkish public universities (Erdogan, 2013). In the years since its inception, the program has become the most influential effort related to doctoral education in the country. As the program moves into its second decade, and the growth in Turkish higher education continues, a program evaluation is timely.
Drawing from the extant body of literature related to doctoral education, this study focuses on the experiences of Turkish doctoral students enrolled in the Faculty Development Program. Utilizing individual student interviews and document analysis, and analyzed through the lens of the PhD Completion Project principles, the study examines how Turkish doctoral students engage with their academic disciplines, their institution, and the larger Turkish higher education system through the Faculty Development Program. This proposal offers evidence from the study as well as conclusions/implications for practice.
Altbach, D. P. G. (2006). Doctoral education: Present realities and future trends. In International handbook of higher education (pp. 65-81). Springer Netherlands. Auriol, L., Misu, M., & Freeman, R. A. (2013). Careers of doctorate holders: analysis of labour market and mobility indicators (No. 2013/4). OECD Publishing. Council of Graduate Schools. (2010). Ph.D. completion and attrition: Policies and practices to promote student success. Ph.D. Completion Project. Washington, DC: Council of Graduate Schools. Çetinsaya, G. (2014). Büyüme, kalite, uluslararasilaşma:Türkiye yükseköğretimi için bir yol haritasi (Expansion, quality, and internationalization: A road map for higher education in Turkey). Turkish Council of Higher Education, Document No: 2014/2. Erdogan, M. (2013). Facilities, challenges and contributions of faculty development program from the perspectives of students and graduates: The case of METU. (Unpublished Master’s Thesis). Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. Gardner, S. K. (2008). Fitting the mold of graduate school: A qualitative study of socialization in doctoral education. Innovative Higher Education, 33(2), 125-138. Holley, K., & Caldwell, M. (2012). The challenges of designing and implementing a doctoral student mentoring program. Innovative Higher Education, 37, 243-253. Holstein, J. A., & Gubrium, J. B. (2005). Interpretive practice and social action. In Denzin, K. N., & Lincoln, Y. S. (Eds.), The Handbook of Qualitative Research (3rd edition). California: Sage Publications. 483-507. Kehm, B. M. (2005). Developing doctoral degrees and qualifications in Europe. Good practice and issues of concern. In Doctoral Studies and Qualifications in Europe and the United States: Status and Prospects, Sadlak, J. (ed.), pp. 279–298, UNESCO–CEPES, Bucharest. Kehm, B. M. (2006). Doctoral education in Europe and North America: A comparative analysis. Wenner Gren International Series, 83, 67. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis: An expanded sourcebook. Sage. OECD (2010). Skills for Innovation and Research, OECD Innovation Strategy, OECD 2010.
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