22 SES 04 A, Postdoctoral Researchers: Working Conditions and Career Prospects
The shared need to support doctoral students across national contexts reflects the significance of the degree across higher education system (Powell & Green, 2007). Doctoral degree recipients comprise the future faculty and researcher workforce across higher education institutions as well as industry, government, and not-for-profit arena. The purpose of this study was to compare doctoral student support programs at two research universities, one in the United States and one in Turkey. The similarities and differences between these programs provide insight into how PhD programs are conceptualized around the world.
The decision to pursue a doctoral degree is a highly complex and individual one. A consistent factor across academic disciplines, institutions, and individual demographics is the interaction between the individual student and faculty member. Doctoral students are more likely to persist to graduation and report higher degrees of satisfaction with their program when they engage in a meaningful relationship with a faculty mentor or advisor (Bair & Haworth, 2004). Other relationships emerge through contacts with individuals across the campus, professional associations, or industry. Engagement with a mentor offers the opportunity for doctoral students to interact with role models and garner support for their professional development and socialization experiences. These interactions vary not only across academic discipline, but also across institutional types and national contexts. In 1981, Turkey experienced a radical re-organization of its higher education system, resulting in increased state coordination and restricted student access (YOK, 1981). For doctoral students, the centralization of the system influences access to financial resources and other forms of academic support (Er & Bayazit, 1999). The average time to degree for PhD students in Turkey is 6-9 years, which includes the completion of a master’s degree (Akiroglu & Akiroglu, 2003). Comparatively, the rate of student attrition from doctoral degree programs remains a troubling aspect of the American higher education system. Half of the students who begin a doctoral program ultimately fail to complete their degree (Bair & Haworth, 2004). Given these and other challenges, how might different institutions within different countries structure a program to support degree completion among doctoral students?
Akiroglu , E., & Akiroglu, J. (2003). Reflections on teaching education in Turkey. European Journal of Teacher Education, 26(2), 253-264. Bair, C., & Haworth, J. G. (2004). Research on doctoral student attrition and retention: A meta synthesis. In J. C. Smart (Ed.), Higher education: Handbook of theory and research XIX (pp. 481–534). New York, NY: Agathon. Corbin, J., & Strauss, A. (Eds.). (2008). Basics of qualitative research: Techniques and procedures for developing grounded theory. Sage. Er, H. A., & Bayazit, N. (1999). Redefining the "Ph. D. in Design" in the periphery: Doctoral education in industrial design in Turkey. Design Issues, 34-44. Powell, S., & Green, H. (2007). The doctorate worldwide. McGraw-Hill International. YOK [Higher Education Council]. (1981). Yuksekogretim kanunu. [The Law on higher education].Retrieved from http://www.yok.gov.tr/documents/10279/29816/2547+say%C4%B1l%C4%B1%20Y%C3%BCksek%C3%B6%C4%9Fretim+Kanunu/f439f90b-7786-464a-a48f-9d9299ba8895
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