This webinar series, organised by the SRHE Postgraduate Issues Network, and in conjunction with the Philosophy and Theory of Higher Education Society, focuses on the evolving impact and implications of the coronavirus pandemic on researcher education and the doctorate by means of theoretical reflections and with a view to practical courses of action, for the medium and into the long term. The series follows on and draws from the PaTHES led webinar in November 2020, Revitalising doctoral education – beyond global trauma. With provocations from four internationally acclaimed keynote speakers (recording of the presentations is on the PaTHES website), the 2020 webinar explored and set the scene regarding the challenges, possibilities and prospects for hope regarding the prosperity of researcher education.
The pandemic lands on us all and affects ‘normal’ operations, initially through organisation and management, then having implications for curriculum and for teaching and learning (to utilise Harold Silver’s 1998 typology of innovations in higher education). Mindful of the ‘message systems’ of curriculum, pedagogy and evaluation (i.e. assessment) with respect to the classification and framing of educational knowledge (Bernstein 1971), this 2021 series follows on by asking not what is the point of a doctorate now but what could be the point of a new form of doctorate, that embraces the need for creativity, inclusivity and interdisciplinarity to meet constant change. In service of this aim the series covers important questions about the place of different epistemologies and cultures. And the series pays close attention to the matter of establishing equivalence regarding supervisory and assessment practices.
Professor Allyson Holbrook: The role of examination feedback in candidate development.
This paper draws on some recent work undertaken into the ‘end-stage’ of doctoral examination. The end-stage is defined as that period after the receipt of examiner reports and submission of the final version of the thesis. It traces themes in the author’s work directed towards understanding what helps and hinders the candidate in their independent development to doctoral level, the management of expectations and emotions in this journey and the intellectual work, and level of work, required when feedback is received, absorbed and addressed in corrections and revisions. The findings raise issues about doctorateness, stability and quality of program, and candidate well-being.
Dr Gill Houston: Pandemic challenges for doctoral candidates approaching the final examination: how can they use `doctorateness’ to their advantage?
Gill will first explore the impact of the pandemic on doctoral researchers and their ability to complete their doctorate as planned. She will reference a paper recently published by the UK Council for Graduate Education entitled: Covid-19 impact on Assessment of Research Degrees (UKCGE, 2021). She will relate some of the points made in the paper to comments made by examiner respondents in her own doctoral study concerning the need for successful candidates to have led their research and to demonstrate high level problem-solving abilities. The two elements of this presentation will suggest how candidates can use their `doctorateness’ to overcome challenges arising from disruption to their research programme.
Professor Allyson Holbrook’s research has focussed on the doctoral learner and PhD examination since the early 2000s. Leading the university centre for the Study of Research Training and Impact (SORTI) Allyson and the SORTI team won Australian Research Council competitive grant funding to study: examiner consistency and standards in use, judgement of thesis quality, the contribution of the viva to examination recommendation, processes and revision supports post examination, doctoral metacognition and the learning profiles of candidates. Allyson is currently President of the Australian Association for Research in Education and Assistant Dean Equity Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Human and Social Futures, University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia.
Dr Gill Houston has wide-ranging experience of higher education, including developing and implementing higher education policy in the UK and internationally, in universities and with sector-wide bodies. Latterly, having served as vice-chair, Gill was chair of UKCGE’s board of trustees (July 2018-July 2020) and is currently vice-chair (until July 2021). Her recent work focuses on the assessment of students and doctoral education, which led to her completing a part-time PhD in education, entitled: `A study of the PhD examination: process, attributes and outcomes’, available online at: https://ora.ox.ac.uk/objects/uuid:07291f0e-e80b-4b06-a6af-b3ac8b90a00e and widely cited in a book published by Sage: Delivering Inspiring Doctoral Assessment (Denicolo, Duke and Reeves, 2020).
Other events in this series