Archive of European Projects

Doctoral supervision of multi-disciplinary practice based doctorates: an appreciative inquiry into best practice in their design, development and delivery
Start date: 01 Sep 2014, End date: 31 Aug 2017 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Doctoral degrees are no longer simply a training ground for the next generation of academics. Different forms have evolved to encompass multi-and trans-disciplinary study by practitioners within their work context (Lester, 2004). The designation has also changed to include terms such as professional, industrial or practice-based PhDs or Doctorates (Fillery-Travis, 2012), called modern doctorates for the rest of this text . These developments are driven by the contribution to knowledge exchange these degrees make and how they facilitate innovation and growth within diverse sectors. But supervision of modern doctorates is currently not fully codified although it requires a number of capabilities (academic and professional) recognised as being beyond those needed for conventional PhD supervision such as advising and facilitation (Boud & Costley, 2007). Previous research on PhD programmes has largely focused on the competences required of candidates (Vitae, 2010) not of their supervisors. However without effective supervision, delivery of the full benefits of these degrees to the host/sponsoring organisation (and the progression and attainment of the candidates) will be compromised. This project will identify best practice in the supervision of modern doctorates and codify it within a framework supported by appropriate resources (training workshop, examiner list, handbook and social media) for European universities and companies to leverage the innovation and new knowledge these degrees can produce. In moving beyond this state of the art the project objectives are to: (1) Access best practice in the supervision/advising of modern doctorates: (2) Identify the host/sponsoring organisation's requirements from supervision (if any) and their contribution to it (3) Develop a framework of practice (supported by training resources) suitable for modern doctorates (4) Disseminate this best practice framework to all stakeholders (5) Produce a sustainable impact on supervisory practice throughout the EU. This project will strengthen cooperation between HEIs in the exchange of this practice and use Appreciative Inquiry(AI) (Cooperrider, Whitney, Stavros, & Fry, 2008) to gather and analyse the rich stories of emerging supervisory practice in the field and the challenges/dilemmas faced by stakeholders (using the Discovery and Dream Stages of AI). The stories, perceptions and practice examples collected will be analysed using thematic analysis (Guest, 2012) in terms of opportunities and barriers to learning and how these have been addressed within supervisory practice. These themes will be collated within a practice framework using the meta-model approach of Lane & Corrie, 2006 (Design Stage). The resulting framework of practice will be the major output of the project and will be disseminated across the EU (Destiny and Delivery Stage). The impact of the project at national level for candidates will be on progression as supervision practice facilitates their studies more appropriately and corresponding completion rates should improve. Overall there will be an evidence base for the doctoral journey for these candidates and that will manage expectations of their study and hence their overall satisfaction with their degree. Similarly a rise in the number of doctoral programmes of this type offered is expected both within HEIs and across the sector. There has been a growth in numbers that is thought to be due to the perceived financial returns such programmes can command during these economically challenging times for the higher education sector across Europe. Whilst this is undoubtedly true there has been a barrier to further development as the supervision is perceived to be complex (as it is!). An evidenced-based framework for supervision will lower such perceived barriers and drive growth in the area for the benefit of all stakeholders. Specifically the framework will enable HEIs to enter a market of industry/academic collaboration with an evidence based practice guide. This will enhance the capacity to leverage the full impact of such work both for the sponsoring organisation and the academic. This project contributes substantially to the needs of HEIs/organisations if they are going to be part of the Modernisation Agenda for HE. Specifically the project facilitates doctoral provision within the workplace focusing on research of immediate impact at the site of production. This is in direct alignment with the Modernisation Agenda which identifies the requirements for 'research training in be bettered aligned with the needs of the knowledge-intensive labour market' and 'encouragement of partnerships and cooperation with business as a core activity of HEI'.
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