06 ONLINE 24 A, Paper Session
MeetingID: 895 6986 5031 Code: agG1is
2020 was a record year for the completion of disputations in Norway. The Corona pandemic led many PhD fellows complete their dissertation digitally. Solberg et.al. (2021) document that although digital disputations were first and foremost an emergency solution, many informants believe that it has nevertheless been successful (pp. 102-103). For example, it has been easier to get international committee members to participate via video, and it is believed that it has created a larger audience. At the same time, many have missed the solemn framework around the disputation (p. 16). As far as we know, there is little knowledge about how the candidates have experienced the digital disputations during the pandemic. It is therefore both interesting and relevant to gain more knowledge about this.
The project aims to provide empirically based knowledge about PdH fellows perspectives, ideas, experiences, knowledge and expectations related to the disputation on digital platforms. The purpose is thus to increase knowledge about the significance of a digital disputation for the conditions for professional communication. Then we need to know more about what the candidates themselves see as opportunities and challenges.
The paper focuses on the final ceremony during the PhD period, the disputation with a trial lecture. The ceremony is highly ritualized and is conducted largely according to the same template at all the Norwegian universities. Many PhD students experience the ceremony as a festive end to a long-term project. We want to gain insight into how PhD fellows have experienced the transition from the traditional disputation face to face to digital disputation during the pandemic. Research questions are: How the PhD fellows experienced the changed framework for communication, including how they experienced the opportunities to observe the opponents and the audience.
The project is mainly based on Niklas Luhmann's systems theoretical understanding of communication (Luhmann, 1995; Fritze, 2005). Within this understanding, teaching and exams are seen as special forms of communication. While teaching is seen as an intended form of communication that seeks change, exams (in this case disputation with a trial lecture) are seen as a form of communication that wants to check the student's (in this case the PhD fellow's) understanding. Based on this understanding of communication, we want to investigate the conditions for communication, when the exam is moved to a technological platform and takes place over a distance. We also want to shed light on the closing ceremony through Bolter and Grusin's (2001, p. 201) three key concepts: remediation, transparent immediacy and hypermediation. According to Bolter and Grusin (2001, p. 272), there is a dialectical relationship between previous media forms and new media / technologies, where previous media are represented in the new ones. While transparent immediacy as a remediation strategy, tries to create closeness to the original communication by hiding the medium, the hypermediation strategy increases the mediation and makes the medium visible. In order to create security and a certain predictability in communication, there may be a need to create references to established disputation traditions and the way in which it is communicated here (Bolter & Grusin, 2001). At the same time, strong references to the traditional communication forms can create unrealistically high expectations for the technology. There will also be a danger that the "transfer" of traditional communication methods may have a limiting effect in order to utilize the opportunities that lie in the individual technology (Fritze, 2005; Bjørgen & Fritze, 2022).
The paper draws on results from an ongoing research project focusing on PhD fellows' experience of communication possibilities in digital disputation. Data is collected in two different ways: 1) Electronic questionnaire to PhD fellows who had a digital disputation during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. The PhD fellows represent four different PhD programmes at our own university college. 2) Subsequently, we will interview a selection of PhD fellows to be able to go more in depth on certain questions. Questions in the survey are e.g. how the communication situation was experienced, both the technical side and the content and form of the conversation. In the interviews, we will take a closer look at the PhD students' experience of building trust and security in a new setting with distance between the communicators. We will also ask them about communicative disturbances during the digital disputation. The interviews will be audiotaped and transcribed. Both the interviews and the survey will be analyzed in accordance with a thematic-analysis approach (Postholm, 2005). We will search across the material to identify, analyze and report on repeating themes or patterns emerging from within the data. Thematic analysis also allows us to draw on relevant theory and personal experiences from the field (Bernard & Ryan, 2010).
The presentation discusses selected examples on PhD fellows reflections on communicative opportunities and challenges during a digital disputation. Preliminary results from the survey indicate that most PhD students would have chosen the traditional disputation if they had had the opportunity. The PhD fellows also said that they received good help from the technical staff and that the technical equipment worked satisfactorily. However, they problematize the communicative limitations, i.a. that they do not see the opponents' body language and mouth movements well enough. In particular, this was a problem with foreign-language opponents. They also said that they generally missed the presence and rituals of the traditional disputation. The paper is relevant to Nordic and European educational research by highlighting the importance of investigating how PhD fellows reflect and interpret the digital disputation. The relevance must also be seen in the fact that little research has been done on PhD fellows' study courses, in this case their experience of the changed communicative conditions for the final ceremony.
Bolter, J.D. & Grusin, R. (2001). Remediation : understanding new media. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press. Forskerforbundet [The Norwegian Association of Researchers] (2021): Forskerforbundets undersøkelse av arbeidssituasjonen i UH-sektoren under koronapandemien [The Norwegian Researchers' Association's investigation of the work situation in the higher education sector during the corona pandemic]. Skriftserien 2021:1. Fritze, Y. (2005). Mediet gør en forskel. En komparativ undersøgelse af kommunikation i nærundervisning og fjernundervisning [The medium makes a difference. A comparative study of communication in local and distance learning]. Doktorgradsavhandling [PhD thesis], Syddansk Universitet, Odense. Gynnild, V. (2003): Når eksamen endrer karakter. Evaluering for læring i høyere utdanning [When the exam changes grade. Evaluation for learning in higher education]. Oslo: Cappelen Akademisk Forlag. Kvale, S. (2000): Eksamen som konstruksjon av kunnskap [Exam as a construction of knowledge]. UNIPED. 22 (3), 6-22. Luhmann, N. (1995): Social systems. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. Lauvås, P. & Jacobsen, A. (2002): Exit eksamen eller? Former for summativ evaluering i høgre utdanning [Exit exam or? Forms of summative evaluation in higher education]. Cappelen Akademisk Forlag. Solberg, E., Hovdhaugen, E., Gulbrandsen, M., Scordato, L., Svartefoss S. & Eide, T. (2021). Et akademisk annerledesår. Konsekvenser og håndtering av koronapandemien ved norske universiteter og høgskoler [An academically different year. Consequences and management of the coronary pandemic at Norwegian universities and colleges]. Rapport 2021:9 NIFU
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.