22 SES 01 C, Graduate Education and Academic Careers
Doctorate is the final stage of higher education. During doctorate, individuals not only specialize in their field, but they are also equipped with qualifications to carry out scientific research. In particular, the aim of doctoral programs is to educate students as competent researchers, that is to make them gain the knowledge and skills to carry out and spread studies on a specific field of research (Meerah, Osman, Zakaria, Krish, Lian&Mahmod, 2012). For this reason, the quality of research education offered in doctorate is an important part of doctoral education.
Research education has an important place for any researcher. In order for the researchers to solve their problems accurately; besides the subject-matter knowledge, their research knowledge and skills must be at a sufficient level. Research education is defined as education aimed at acquiring knowledge and skills and scientific attitudes and behaviour in order to be able to do research or to make effective use of research (Saracaloğlu, Varol, & Ercan, 2005).
The research knowledge and skills that the research education will bring to the individual during doctorate has great importance in their post doctoral career. Doctoral students have to do research for their academic career. In addition, academicians need to provide guidance to students, who are under their supervision during the master’s and doctorate education, both in terms of field knowledge and research knowledge and skills. In their study, Hyatt and Williams (2011) suggest several competencies that an academician needs to have. These competencies are grouped under the following themes: teaching role, research role, guidance role, service role, and colleagues’ role. Research competences are listed as the ability to see problems from multiple perspectives, the continuous development of scientific skills, contributing to the field through publications and presentations that are innovative and adaptable, and using technology for research (Hyatt & Williams, 2011). However; as Meerah et al. (2012) indicated, the lack of methodology of conducting research, including the lack of knowledge and skills to carry out research, data collection and use of means for analyzing data, research and communicationare among the main difficulties students face in doctoral education.
In order to increase the quality of research education offered during doctorate degree, it is important to understand what is missing and what is thriving in research education. The aim of this study is to investigatethe strengths and weaknesses of the doctoral-level research education from the perspectives of the doctoral students.
The current study follows a qualitative research methodology. This study is designed to examine the views of doctoral students by using face-to-face interviews. Participants consisted of doctoral students who are enrolled to doctoral programs in different institutes in a university in Turkey and who take the “Scientific Research and Publication Ethics” course in Fall semester of 2017-2018 academic year. In this study, interviews were conducted with the participants at the beginning and end of the semester. From the students who attended the interviews held at the beginning of the semester, two doctoral students were from the Institute of Sciences and eight were from the Institute of Social Sciences. In terms of the semester that they are attending, eight of the doctoral students were in their first semester and two of them were in the second, and two of them were female and eight of them were male. From the students who attended the interviews held at the end of the semester, one doctoral student was from the Institute of Sciences and four were from the Institute of Social Sciences, four students were in their first semester and one of them was in the second semester, and one of them was female and four of them were male. Semi-structured interview form as data collection tool was developed by the researchers by reviewing the related literature. A draft semi-structured interview form was sent to two curriculum development and one assessment and evaluation experts for review, and the final version of the form was revised according to their feedbacks. Participants were posed 10 questions (e.g., “What are your expectations from the research education you are taking this term?”) at the interviews held at the beginning of the semester, and 12 questions (e.g., “Did the research course you took this term meet your expectations?”) were asked to the participants at interviews held at the end of the semester. Voice recordings were done during the interviews after the participants’ permissions are granted. Analysis of the collected data was performed by content analysis using the MAXQDA program.
In the interviews held at the beginning of the semester, all of the doctoral students stated that research education should not be limited to one semester. They indicated that during the research education they aimed to acquire the skills to do research, to use data analysis programs effectively, and to gain consciousness on research ethics. They stated that besides the theoretical content about the research processes, the applications for doing research should also be included in research courses. All students stated that evaluation of their achievements should be based on students’ performance, such as projects and research papers. Doctoral students stated that the teaching staff that will offer research education should have teaching and speaking skills, should be willing to do research. In the interviews held at the end of the semester, doctoral students identified that the research courses they took were efficient and useful.They stated that they experienced that some of the master’s and doctoral students had to attend the courses together and that the research courses offered in a single semester was a problem. On the other hand, they identified that using/working on their own collected data in research courses was an opportunity for them to better learn the material. They stated that the content given during the research courses was appropriate for the scope of the course, but the topics related to the writing process should be included in the content of the course. From students’ perspective, the biggest strength of the doctoral-level research education were that students were given opportunities to do research. According to the students, the weakness of the doctoral-level research education was about the planning of the course such as using written exams for assessment and evaluation, courses being offered only in one semester and time constraints of the instructors offering the courses.
Hyatt, L.,& Williams, P. E. (2011). 21st century competencies for doctoral leadership faculty. Innovative Higher Education, 36(1), 53-66. Meerah, T. S. M., Osman, K., Zakaria, E., Ikhsan, Z. H., Krish, P., Lian, D. K. C., & Mahmod, D. (2012). Developing an instrument to measure research skills. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 60, 630-636. Saracaloğlu, A. S., Varol, S. R., & Ercan, İ. E. (2005). Lisansüstü eğitim öğrencilerinin araştırma kaygıları, araştırma ve istatistiğe yönelik tutumları ile araştırma yeterlikleri arasındaki ilişki. Buca Eğitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 17, 187-199.
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