22 SES 08 D, Academic Work and Professional Development
This paper aims to investigate the development of professional knowledge, and the characteristics which constitute this, amongst students who have engaged in doctoral programmes in Education in England and Sweden.
The systems of doctoral education in England and Sweden differ in several important aspects, including funding mechanisms, structure and organization. In England doctoral students within Education tend to undertake a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) or a Professional Doctorate in Education (EdD), and in Sweden students undertake a Doctorate in Philosophy (PdD) or a Licentiate degree however, within each of these doctoral experiences students undergo a period of considerable development and learning.
The paper addresses the follow research questions:
- How does engagement in a doctoral programme facilitate the development of professional knowledge and its enactment in practice?
- Does the development of such professional knowledge and its enactment in practice differ depending on whether students undertake a doctorate in Sweden or England, and if so, in what ways?
The paper will focus on four detailed cases, two from the UK and two from Sweden, of students who have recently completed their doctoral studies. The aim of the cases was to gain insights into the reflections doctoral graduates made about their doctoral journey which led to changes in the enactment of their professional practice. Jarvis (2009) acknowledged that reflection invariably leads to a deeper understanding that enables individuals to make meaning of their experiences, change and become more experienced; he stated that reflection ‘implies that we are questioning, in some way, the experience that we have had whether that be receiving information, witnessing an event, seeking to solve a problem or experiencing some other phenomenon’ (Jarvis, 2006, 99).
Within each of the cases, consideration was given to the following areas: motivation for undertaking doctoral study; doctoral graduates' reflections on the doctoral process; their perception of the learning that took place during the doctoral programme, including key events or situations which facilitated the development of professional knowledge; and their professional role within their organization.
Each of the cases was concerned with what Linden et al. (2011; 4) refers to as ‘personal learning’; he sees this, in the short term, as comprising of ‘personal skills development’ and ‘relational job learning’. ‘Personal skills development’ refers to the acquisition of skills and abilities that enable better working relationships within an organization, and ‘relational job learning’ refers to the increased understanding about the interdependence of one’s job with others’ role job the organization.
More broadly, the study also considers differences and similarities between England and Sweden in terms of the specific skills (capacities, abilities, aptitudes or competencies) that doctoral students are expected to acquire (Gilbert et al., 2004), the knowledge and skills doctoral graduates perceive that they have learned during their doctoral study, and differences between English and Swedish Education policy in terms of how the doctoral student is envisioned in policy and the expected outcomes of doctoral education in English and Swedish doctoral education policy.
Gilbert, R., Balatti, J., Turner, P., and H. Whitehouse (2004). The generic skills debate in research higher degrees. Higher Education Research & Development, 23(3), 375-388. Jarvis, P. (2006) Towards a comprehensive theory of human learning: Lifelong learning and learning society (Vol. 1). New York: Routledge. Jarvis, P. (2009) Learning to be a person ion society. London: Routledge. Mishler, E. G. (1999) STORYLINES. Craftartists’ Narratives of Identity. Harvard University Press: London. Mowbray, S. and Halse, C. (2012) The purpose of PhD: theorising the skills acquired by students Higher Education Research and Development, Vol. 29, No. 6, 653-664.
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