22 SES 04 A, Paper Session
How do Ph.D. students and early career academics learn how to lecture across Europe? The Bologna Process is a reform mechanism seeking to increase mobility, coherence, inclusiveness, cooperation, and accessibility in European Higher Education (European Commission). Launched twenty years ago with the Erasmus Programme, the Process was updated to include third-cycle studies, also called Ph.D. education, in 2003 (Berlin Ministerial Communiqué). While the Berlin Ministerial Communiqué spoke to various phases, resources, and types of research education, the communiqué did not specify how third cycle participants would learn to teach their research. This is both a telling and problematic omission since academic careers consist of two primary activities: researching and teaching. In the absence of guidance on how Ph.D. students can-- and perhaps should-- learn to lecture, it is unclear how Ph.D. students and early career academics acquire pedagogical skills across Europe. By extension, the lack of knowledge and consistency in Ph.D. education calls into question Bologna’s core principles. After all, if Ph.D. students are not offered comparable pedagogical training--- or any training at all-- how can European universities 'stimulate the development of excellence' (Berlin Ministerial Communiqué 2003, 7) among cadres of students ostensibly learning to lecture during their third cycle studies?
While existing literature highlights the need for pedagogical training (Gibbs & Coffy 2004; Pickering 2007; Postareff et al. 2007), few contributions elaborate how this can be integrated into Ph.D. education. Those who investigate pedagogical training observe that it has been comparatively less attention than research education, both within Europe (Gale 2011; Jordan & Howe 2018; Remmik et al. 2013) and beyond (Bok 2013; Harland & Planger 2004). Harland and Planger (2004) explain how knowledge has become commodified, but within the knowledge market, production is valued higher than knowledge transmission. The unequal value attributed to knowledge acquisition through research over knowledge transmission through teaching has consequences for education in general, and Ph.D. education, in particular.
Most Ph.D. students are either expected or required to teach, but most third cycle programs prioritize the dissertation. Bok (2013), for example, demonstrates that Ph.D. students are discouraged from teaching when it takes time from the dissertation. To the extent that teaching is viewed as beneficial for Ph.D. students, it is valued as a means of developing research skills rather than as an end in and of itself. In other words, even when Ph. D. students teach, it is viewed as instrumental to their research practice (Jordan & Howe 2018). Even at universities that aim to deliver “high ranked education,” Ph.D. students receive limited training and support in developing their pedagogical competencies (Jordan & Howe 2018).
In some cases, Ph.D. students even say that their pedagogical practices are more influenced by their experiences as undergraduate students than from the training they receive during their tertiary education (Remmik et al. 2013). Consequently, several scholars contend that Ph.D. students need to receive pedagogical training and experience to become lecturers upon graduation (Bok 2013, Harland & Planger 2004). Our study builds upon and extends this literature by exploring the issue of pedagogical training during third cycle education from the perspectives of Ph.D. students and early career academics working at universities affected by the Bologna Process.
In this paper, we— two Ph.D. students at an Erasmus-affiliated university— interview Ph.D. students and early career academics in Europe about how they were (or were not) trained to become lecturers during their Ph.D. education. We aim to use our empirical material to build upon and extend existing research on the types of training Ph.D. students receive and to explore how pedagogical training can be developed to meet the needs of lecturers working in Europe. We will gather our empirical material by conducting semi-structured interviews on Zoom with participants at Erasmus-affiliated universities in spring 2021. Since ours is an exploratory study, we will select participants based on the principle of diversity (Seawright & Gerring 2008, 300-301), interviewing Ph.D. students and early career academics working in 10-20 European countries. Consequently, our material will provide insight into third cycle programs, practices, and understandings across Europe. We will use a snowball sampling strategy to identify potential participants, limiting our participants to those who taught during their third-cycle studies. Our interview questions will speak to three themes: What sort of pedagogical training/education did you bring with you to your PhD. program? What sort of pedagogical training/education did you receive during your Ph.D. program? Based on your teaching experience, what sort of pedagogical training/education would you like to receive during your Ph.D. education to become a competent lecturer? We will engage in a thematic analysis (e.g., Bryman 2008, 273-293) of the notes we take during interviews and interview transcripts. In doing so, we will code our material using NVivo, a qualitative data analysis software. During coding, we aim to identify similarities and differences in participants’ experiences. We will then code documents and principles produced through the Bologna Process, comparing these to our empirical material to determine consistency, divergence, and diversity. Finally, we will compile recommendations that our participants make about the training types they believe they need to become competent lecturers. This final level of coding and analysis will help us move beyond description and toward recommendations for pedagogical training among Bologna signatories.
We expect that Ph.D. students across Europe not only complete very different pedagogical training during their third-cycle studies but also that these students find their training insufficient in helping them develop pedagogical competence. Moreover, we anticipate that Ph.D. students are expected to take on teaching tasks without adequate supervision and support, and Ph.D. students receive less compensation for their teaching than senior staff. We further anticipate that Ph.D. students take on different teaching roles and titles across Europe. For example, we know that in the U.K., Ph.D. students who work as teachers in undergraduate courses are called graduate teaching assistants (GTAs), while in Sweden, Ph.D. students are not distinguished from other teaching staff and may even be given the sole responsibility of teaching and evaluation in BA-level courses. Related to teaching compensation, we expect to find that Ph.D. students are often treated as “teaching slaves,” hired on short-term contracts to teach courses that senior staff cannot teach because of research commitments or do not want to teach because the teaching load is too great. Finally, we expect that existing pedagogical training offered during third-cycle studies neither adheres to nor promotes the Bologna principles of mobility, coherence, inclusiveness, cooperation, and accessibility. Based on these expected findings, we hope that we can use our empirical material to cultivate suggestions for pedagogical training across Europe with advice for education, support, and equitable compensation.
Berlin Ministerial Communiqué. 2003. 'Realising the European Higher Education Area'. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from http://www.ehea.info/media.ehea.info/file/2003_Berlin/28/4/2003_Berlin_Communique_English_577284.pdf Bok, Derek. 2013. ‘We Must Prepare Ph.D. Students for the Complicated Art of Teaching’. Commentary, The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://www.chronicle.com/article/we-must-prepare-ph-d-students-for-the-complicated-art-of-teaching/ Bryman, Alan. 2008. Social Research Methods. Oxford: Oxford University Press. European Commission (n.d.) 'The Bologna Process and the European Higher Education Area.' Retrieved January 25, 2021, from https://ec.europa.eu/education/policies/higher-education/bologna-process-and-european-higher-education-area_en Gale, Helen. 2011. ‘The Reluctant Academic: Early-Career Academics in a Teaching-Orientated University’. International Journal for Academic Development 16(3): 215–27. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2011.596705. Gibbs, G. & Coffey, M. (2004). 'The impact of training university teachers on their teaching skills, their approach to teaching and the approach to learning of their students'. Active Learning in Higher Education 5(1): 87-100. Harland, Tony, and Gabi Plangger. 2004. ‘The Postgraduate Chameleon: Changing Roles in Doctoral Education’. Active Learning in Higher Education 5(1): 73–86. https://doi.org/10.1177/1469787404040462. Jordan, Katy, and Christine Howe. 2018. ‘The Perceived Benefits and Problems Associated with Teaching Activities Undertaken by Doctoral Students’. Teaching in Higher Education 23(4): 504–21. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2017.1414787. Kwiek, M. (2019). Changing European Academics - a comparative study of social stratification, work patterns and research productivity. New York: Routledge. Mckay, Loraine, and Sue Monk. 2017. ‘Early Career Academics Learning the Game in Whackademia’. Higher Education Research & Development 36(6): 1251–63. https://doi.org/10.1080/07294360.2017.1303460. Pickering, A. M. (2006). Learning about University Teaching: Reflections on a Research Study Investigating Influences for Change. Teaching in Higher Education 11(3): 319–335. Postareff, L., Lindblom-Ylänne, S. & Nevgi, A. (2007). The Effect of Pedagogical Training on Teaching in Higher Education. Teaching and Teacher Education 23: 557–571. Remmik, Marvi, Mari Karm, and Liina Lepp. 2013. ‘Learning and Developing as a University Teacher : Narratives of Early Career Academics in Estonia’. European Educational Research Journal 12(3): 330–41. https://doi.org/10.2304/eerj.2013.12.3.330. Saroyan, A. & Frenay, M. (2010). Building teaching capacities in higher education: A comprehensive international model. Sterling: Stylus. Seawright, Jason, and John Gerring. 2008. ‘Case Selection Techniques in Case Study Research: A Menu of Qualitative and Quantitative Options’. Political Research Quarterly 61(2): 294–308. https://doi.org/10.1177/1065912907313077. Tight, Malcolm. Higher Education Research: The Developing Field. London: Bloomsbury.
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