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dc.contributor.advisorStein, Sarah
dc.contributor.advisorButson, Russell
dc.contributor.advisorvan der Meer, Jacques
dc.contributor.authorSim, Kwong Nui
dc.date.available2016-03-09T20:06:28Z
dc.date.copyright2016
dc.identifier.citationSim, K. N. (2016). An investigation into the way PhD students utilise ICT to support their doctoral research process (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy). University of Otago. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10523/6263en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10523/6263
dc.description.abstractThe use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) has grown enormously in the last decade with computers and smart devices becoming indispensable in tertiary students’ study practices. There is, however, limited documented research about the ways PhD students use ICT in their research practice. Under normal circumstances, it is assumed that PhD students will make use of ICT (e.g., computer technologies) throughout their research journey for a variety of generic and specialised purposes. This study thus examines the degree to which PhD students use ICT to support their doctoral research in their daily academic practices. In order to better understand the role of ICT among PhD students in an uncontrived context, the study adopted the interpretive, naturalist enquiry and analysis approach proposed by Guba and Lincoln (1989), from social constructivist perspectives. This approach underpinned the decision to select a small number of participants from within a particular context to investigate their understandings of their experiences and use of ICT to support their research, in light of the adopted socio-technical framework (Bostrom & Heinen, 1977a). Three data sources were used in this study. Computer activity data was extracted from the computer devices of nine full time PhD students who self-reported as being skilled computer users. The second data source consisted of drawings gathered from the same group of participants about their doctoral research process involving the use of ICT. The third dataset represented photographs of this cohort of participants’ work areas as well as individual and group discussion sessions about the participants’ ICT use in this process. The analysis took into account the emphasis of the socio-technical framework: the relationship and/or the tensions that exist between the PhD student participants (the social aspect) and ICT (the technical aspect). An analysis of the five areas of findings revealed that: 1) The ways PhD students used ICT in the process of undertaking doctoral research were similar, regardless of the phase of their PhD. 2) The ways PhD students used ICT in the doctoral research process were similar, regardless of their discipline backgrounds (the only difference was the frequency of the document types they accessed in their daily research practices). 3) The socio-technical systems in the doctoral research process in regard to the PhD students’ goal-directed behaviours of producing a doctoral thesis in the “best possible ways” are co-adopted and co-adapted to each other at a minimum level. 4) The computer activities of the PhD students in their day-to-day research practices showed a misalignment between their level of computer literacy and their academic achievement. 5) Individual PhD students presented differences in their ways of using ICT during their doctoral research process but their concept of ICT use was not different as a cohort. In addition, the characteristics of “Curation”, “Combat”, “Coping” and “Conforming” situate within the context of PhD students’ ICT use in the process of accomplishing their doctoral research in relation to their notion of the best possible ways to be “efficient” and “effective”. The findings of this study raise questions about the role played by ICT in advancing learning in higher education and highlights an aspect of limitation in these students’ academic or research-orientated use of ICT. This could be due to taken-for-granted and/or overlooked acceptance that all students are proficient ICT users which may result in a lack of intervention, support, and emphasis of ICT support, as well as educational approach for ICT use in the process of undertaking doctoral research. The ways participants use ICT as represented in this study did not lead them to the construct of using ICT in the “best possible ways” within the doctoral research process. The tension that exists between the social (the PhD students in this context) and the technical (ICT) systems within this process could be the main concern as well as the main cause of this phenomenon. Such tension, however, could be resolved if there is a “shared” construct for the ideas of the notions of computer literacy, ICT teaching and learning, the process of carrying out PhD study, and the use of technology in this process. In summary, the findings of this study have relevance for the broader tertiary population to engender awareness of a different way to understand research into student behaviour. In this way, the study will provide an opportunity for academics, especially supervisors of postgraduate research students, to understand to what extent ICT plays a role in PhD students’ research processes and/or to what degree technological support might be required to support PhD students. Further, it is hoped that the findings generated from this study will help promote a deeper conversation about the ways PhD students use ICT in their research. Perhaps research on larger and more diverse groups of students could be considered to obtain more representative data of the student population, as this study is focussed on a small group of students at one university. Additionally, visual and situated behavioural data could be employed in researching ICT use as such data may offer new insights not found in data gathered through questionnaires and surveys.
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.format.mimetypeapplication/pdf
dc.language.isoen
dc.publisherUniversity of Otago
dc.rightsAll items in OUR Archive are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.
dc.subjectacademic practices
dc.subjectactual practice
dc.subjectcomputer literacy
dc.subjectdoctoral research
dc.subjectdiscussion
dc.subjecte-learning
dc.subjecthigher education
dc.subjectICT
dc.subjectaper-based approach
dc.subjectparticipative drawing
dc.subjectperception data
dc.subjectPhD students
dc.subjectphotographic data
dc.subjectpractice data
dc.subjectresearch practices
dc.subjectself-report of practice
dc.subjectsocio-technical framework
dc.subjectteaching and learning
dc.subjectUniversity
dc.titleAn investigation into the way PhD students utilise ICT to support their doctoral research process
dc.typeThesis
dc.date.updated2016-03-09T01:37:02Z
dc.language.rfc3066en
thesis.degree.disciplineHigher Education Development Centre
thesis.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophy
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Otago
thesis.degree.levelDoctoral
otago.openaccessOpen
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