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Chemistry PhD Supervisors in Australia: A Study of the Relationship between their Conceptions of Doctoral Purpose and their Reported Educational Practices

Ibo, Rami

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Over the past 30 years, the literature on doctoral education has raised a number of debates about the research doctorate. This has included debates over its purpose and whether its graduates are well prepared to address the diverse and complex problems of today’s workforce. However, scholarly literature on doctoral education in the academic discipline of chemistry is mostly non-existent. To address this research gap, I draw upon key concepts arising from the doctoral education literature such...[Show more]

dc.contributor.authorIbo, Rami
dc.date.accessioned2021-05-13T06:18:14Z
dc.date.available2021-05-13T06:18:14Z
dc.identifier.otherb71501769
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/1885/233028
dc.description.abstractOver the past 30 years, the literature on doctoral education has raised a number of debates about the research doctorate. This has included debates over its purpose and whether its graduates are well prepared to address the diverse and complex problems of today’s workforce. However, scholarly literature on doctoral education in the academic discipline of chemistry is mostly non-existent. To address this research gap, I draw upon key concepts arising from the doctoral education literature such as doctoral purpose, practice, and evaluation to provide the necessary framing for this study. Based on this, I ask the following question: ‘What are the Positions of Chemistry PhD Supervisors in Australia in Relation to Contemporary Debates and Practices in Doctoral Education?’ This study adopts a qualitative research methodology in which 31 chemistry PhD supervisors in Australia were interviewed using the semi-structured interview method. Data were analysed thematically using both deductive analysis for pre-existing themes from the literature, and inductive analysis for emergent themes from the data. Three main themes characterised the analysis: supervisors’ conceptions of doctoral purpose; their reported educational practices; and their reported methods of self-evaluation of supervisory success and graduate follow-up. It was found that the reported practices for two groups of supervisors in the sample did not align with their conceptions of purpose. Instead, they showed a strong tendency to socialise their students into becoming custodians or ‘stewards’ of the discipline, despite interviewees expressing conceptions of doctoral purpose that aligned with the development of graduates as knowledge workers equipped with the knowledge and skills for wider employment. For the other group, their conceptions of doctoral purpose did align with their reported educational practices of preparing ‘stewards’ of the discipline, with their reported practices also tending towards setting up their students to become stewards. These issues were further compounded by supervisors not adequately following up with their graduates in terms of their career outcomes, despite them indicating that they considered graduate employment as one measure of supervisory success. The main scholarly contribution this thesis makes is in initiating the scholarly debates and discussions about contemporary doctoral education within the discipline of chemistry. These debates and discussions are needed in order to not only critically reflect on the role and influence chemistry PhD supervisors have in the education of future chemistry PhD candidates, but also to critically contemplate the purpose and contribution of the chemistry doctorate in relation to the labour market and broader society. Practical implications arising will also be discussed.
dc.titleChemistry PhD Supervisors in Australia: A Study of the Relationship between their Conceptions of Doctoral Purpose and their Reported Educational Practices
dc.typeThesis (PhD)
local.contributor.supervisorKiley, Margaret
dc.date.issued2021
local.contributor.affiliationCollege of Arts & Social Sciences, The Australian National University
local.identifier.doi10.25911/M6BK-8Q87
local.identifier.researcherID0000-0001-5479-3294
local.thesisANUonly.author5960c238-a7e7-4a31-8925-5e9dc9dc12a9
local.thesisANUonly.title000000012798_TC_1
local.thesisANUonly.key5e4c4aea-5074-b277-be95-9decfbf9df70
local.mintdoimint
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