Evolving doctoral identities : understanding ‘complex investments’

Van Schalkwyk, Susan (2014)

CITATION: Van Schalkwyk, S. 2014. Evolving Doctoral Identities: Understanding 'Complex Investments', in E. Bitzer (eds.). et al. Pushing Boundaries in Postgraduate Supervision. Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS. 215-232. doi:10.18820/9781920689162/15.

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Chapters in Books

ENGLISH SUMMARY : The metaphor of a journey is often applied to doctoral studies. This journey is characterised by a sense of ‘being and becoming’ that accompanies the emergence of a candidate’s doctoral identity (Green 2005; see also Barnett & Di Napoli 2008). Many students experience this process of identity formation as complex and multifaceted, influenced by individual realities and social contexts (Jazvac-Martek 2009), and fraught with tension and uncertainty (Green 2005). This change in identity is seldom gradual. Often it is marked by moments of dissonance and crisis that lead students to places of change and growth (Di Napoli & Barnett 2008; Jarvis-Selinger, Pratt & Regehr 2012). The doctoral student is expected not only to engage in the process of knowledge acquisition and creation, but to also navigate the developmental journey towards doctorateness (Frick 2011; Trafford & Leshem 2009). Although there is a growing body of research in the field of doctoral education, there remains a need for studies that seek to understand how the identity of the doctoral candidate evolves during the time of study, and why this rite of passage (Andresen 2000) occurs the way it does (Green 2005; Jazvac-Martek 2009). Knowledge about the lived, dayto-day experience of a doctoral candidate is scant. The relationship between student and supervisor is often shrouded in secrecy representing a ‘bounded’ space that is seldom opened up to scrutiny from the outside. Following on Jazvac-Martek (2009), I argue that drawing on constructs such as identity, and the development thereof, offers a useful lens through which the doctoral experience can be explored.

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