Investigating Students' Perceptions of Collegiality in Doctoral Education
Collegiality in the doctoral environment and collegial peer communities are under-researched, and their potential to enhance doctoral education is under-utilised. Academic developers, researchers, government departments, corporate and industrial bodies, and students have reported that more could be done during doctoral education to develop students’ collegial practices. This thesis adopts a collective, student-centred approach to determine how students define and practise collegiality in the doctoral environment of one research-intensive university. Using a hybrid methodology of social practice theory and phenomenography, the research involved 43 doctoral student participants from all divisions of the university. Students took part either in focus groups, or in hierarchical card sorting activities; eleven students participated in both activities. For the card sorting activity, students worked in pairs to rank what they considered were the most important features of collegiality, then discussed their rankings. The doctoral students in this study demonstrated complex and subjective understandings of collegial practices and collegial relationships, and identified those involved in their doctoral education as colleagues. The students’ expectations of collegial relationships were shaped by codes of conduct that often go unarticulated. This study created a unique context in which doctoral students could name otherwise tacit codes of conduct that facilitate productive and respectful collegial practices. These doctoral students explained how their participation in collegial practices helped to mitigate some of the emotional work of isolation, which they accepted as part of doctoral study. While students in this study were the main architects of their collegial environment, I argue that those responsible for doctoral education can do more to foster collegial cultures in order to enhance students’ experience of the doctorate, contribute to measures that help safeguard students’ wellbeing, and support students’ preparations for diverse career trajectories after graduation.
Advisor: Nairn, Karen; Golding, Clinton
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Education
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: doctoral students; doctoral education; collegiality; colleagues; peers; emotional work
Research Type: Thesis