Doctoral Education at the ‘Eye’ of the Perfect Storm

Anne Graham Cagney, Paul Coghlan, Louise Andrews

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    There is evidence of change in the context in which doctoral education is developing; in the need for research-based responses to the grand challenges facing society; and in the employability of the PhD. Key features of these changes identified by the EUA and the IUA, include quality research training, inter-disciplinarity, partnerships with industry, and a mentality of innovation. Researchers need to develop cross-disciplinary thinking in order to work with someone else within the discipline, outside the discipline or in practice. Therefore, PhD research has to contribute in different ways, and the researcher must develop new and different skills and perspectives. In particular, the researcher must come to see that to explore and exploit the value latent in their thesis research, it may be necessary to interact directly with researchers from other disciplines and, together, to progress from multi-disciplinary interaction to interdisciplinary outcomes. The overall objective of the study was to explore how distinctive learning spaces can be built into doctoral teaching-learning environments (TLEs) in order to create opportunities for cross-disciplinary transformative learning to occur. More precisely, the aim was to identify how to create doctoral learning spaces that enable one to think beyond one’s own discipline, to communicate across traditional disciplinary divides, in order to exploit the potential in the thesis research while not diluting the (disciplinary) core of the research. Literatures that inform this study include EUA, IUA and other universities discussion papers and monographs; Entwistle (2009, 2008), Donald (2002), Land (2004, 2005, King (2005, 2009) and Graham (2011). The TCD/UCD Innovation Academy is the context for this case study. Methods used included a student questionnaire, interviews, an end-of-programme 360°evaluation, and document analysis. The research results identify aspects of the learning space that impact on student’s ability to communicate across the disciplines, and to move from ‘intra-disciplinary’, to ‘multi-disciplinary’ to ‘inter-disciplinary’ ways of thinking and practicing. Further steps are identified for developing Academy programme TLE and also suggestions for initiatives within and between faculties in both universities. The need for more research into creating cross-disciplinary doctoral learning spaces in general is identified.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusSubmitted - 2012
    Event4th Biennial Threshold Concepts Conference and 6th NAIRTL Annual Conference: Threshold Concepts in Doctoral Supervision. - Trinity College Dublin, Trinity College Dublin
    Duration: 03 Jan 0001 → …


    Conference4th Biennial Threshold Concepts Conference and 6th NAIRTL Annual Conference: Threshold Concepts in Doctoral Supervision.
    CityTrinity College Dublin
    Period03/01/0001 → …


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