Partnering with doctoral students in research supervision: opportunities and challenges

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Discourse regarding modern doctoral studies criticises the traditional notion of doctoral education as being too narrow to facilitate knowledge creation and transfer towards the knowledge economy. This study considered the pedagogical links to supervisory practices to enable transformative learning experiences. The study, grounded in the student–faculty partnership framework and transformative learning concepts, partnered five senior doctoral students with three faculty supervisors for more than a year to mentor junior research students through a variety of strategies. Through a qualitative exploratory research design, the data were collected using reflective journals and in-depth interviews with all participants to gain insight into the experience of this partnership. The findings indicated that the partnership provided an opportunity for students and partners to forge an identity, construct research knowledge in stimulating ways and engage in enactive and vicarious learning. Conversely, the challenges of this study included a lack of structure and power and credibility issues. The findings have important implications for doctoral supervision practices in that learning at the doctoral level is a social activity and supervisors play an important role in shaping such practices.

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Higher Education Research and Development

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