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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: Professional doctoral students and the doctoral supervision relationship: negotiating difficulties
Author(s): Kirkland, Margot Anne
Supervisor(s): Copland, Fiona
Keywords: Doctoral supervision
Professional doctoral students
Issue Date: Apr-2018
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This research considers the experiences and difficulties that professional doctoral students face and the supervision relationship. Winnicott’s psychoanalytical ideas are used to understand and make sense of the less visible dynamics that shape the professional doctoral students’ narratives. Semi-structured interviews are used to sensitively explore in-depth the nature of difficult experiences. The method of analysis was both compatible with the psychoanalytical theoretical perspective and with the qualitative interview method. The analysis provided an opportunity to listen to and make sense of the professional doctoral students’ narratives in four different ways. The thesis begins with a review of the wider doctoral education research context. Changes, taking place in that context, are considered, looking particularly at the impact of the knowledge economy on doctoral educational research in general and, more specifically, on professional doctoral educational research. Literature within doctoral education highlights supervision models and psychoanalytical supervision models designed for doctoral supervision practice and doctoral student support. Key findings relate to the professional doctoral students’ expectations and the perceptions that shape their difficult experiences. Firstly, professional doctoral students have little knowledge of doctoral supervision before beginning their first doctoral supervision relationship. The professional doctoral students’ expectations and perceptions influence their supervision relationships. When the professional doctoral students negotiate their expectations, they experience a productive working supervision relationship. However, when professional doctoral students exclude difficult experiences from their supervision relationships they do not get an opportunity to make sense of their experiences. Informal pastoral support, such as cohorts, peer groups and families, provide additional space for the professional doctoral students to talk about their difficult experiences. However, this thesis shows that informal support does not provide an academic framework for the professional doctoral student to understand their difficult experience within a doctoral research context. In contrast, this research suggests that the supervision relationship between the professional doctoral student and the supervisor can offer a supervision space informed by Winnicott’s psychoanalytical ideas. In this space supervisors and supervisees can explore difficult professional doctoral student experiences in a creative, playful and academic environment. The thesis concludes by considering the implications for doctoral supervisors and for professional doctoral students. In doing so, I offer recommendations that include points to consider for Higher Education policy, professional doctoral education and supervision training.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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