Where do you begin, and which way should you go, when commencing a doctorate?
Earlier this month, I started my doctoral degree in education at Wolfson College, Cambridge University. I want to blog as much of my thinking and research as possible, whilst being fully aware of the impending workload. Dr. Elaine Wilson recommended that my EdD group started to write, so whether or not I do it here or behind the scenes I haven’t worked it out yet, but that’s part of the journey.
There are ten other people in my cohort, congregating from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and interests. This in itself is fascinating and I look forward to discovering new friendships and learning from my colleagues. As I write about my research journey, I wanted to share the first paper Wilson provided us on our reading list: “Supporting researching professionals: EdD students’ perceptions of their development needs.” by Hilary Lindsay, Lucinda Kerawalla and Alan Floyd (2017).
This blog is my summary of the research paper.
Supporting EdD students
A doctorate in education (EdD) is an established alternative to a doctorate in philosophy (PhD). An EdD gives educators an opportunity to carry out research that is relevant to and informed by their experience as practitioners. BERA research (2014) recognises the need for knowledge, practical experience and research literacy, which it views as jointly contributing to the teacher as a professional. It sees teachers’ research and enquiry skills and predispositions’ is helping to renew ‘teachers’ professional identity in practice.
Studying for EdD places professional practice and critical reflection at the centre of the experience (straddling university and the workplace), whereas a PhD focuses on contributions to knowledge alone.
- EdD = Knowledge in context / research professionals.
- PhD = Contribution to knowledge / professional researchers.
Developing An Analytical Framework
The challenge I face over the coming years is to narrow my research so that it remains original, significant and offers rigorous developments to my field. As I progress throughout the course, this first year will be focused on conceptualising practice; using literature; developing ways of thinking; study practice and collecting data.
In year two, I will begin to prepare for registration and upgrade to ‘Viva’. A ‘viva voce’ is a Latin phrase literally meaning “by word of mouth” and will mark a period in my studies where a candidate can articulate research through performance in an oral examination – this supported with intensive writing; data collection and discussion about research context, methods and lines of analysis.
In year three of my part-time journey, data collection and writing will dominate my studies, culminating in the final part in years four and five, writing and disseminating my research.
Researching Practitioner Development Framework (RPDF)
This overarching structure has been developed by The Open University (2002, 2009) and offers an insider perspective on the personal experience of doing an EdD. The RPDF framework has the potential to address ‘blending theory and practice’ and help students identify that the need to develop an academic confidence and enter the discourse of academia. At the moment I do not have access to the full paper online, but I have shared a photograph of the image below for your benefit.
Working as a researcher
- building supportive relationships (social networks already established, but will need refined)
- developing research and study skills (I think I am here)
- blending theory and practice
Developing ways of thinking
- reflecting on theory and practice
- developing your identity
- building your resilience
Moving on with your research
- engaging with new opportunities
- making a difference
- disseminating research.
The original paper has explored students’ perceptions and experiences of doctoral students and their development needs. I hope to use this chart as the framework for my journey towards becoming a ‘researching professional.’