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Developing scholarly communities as learning environments for doctoral students

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The quality of PhD training can be conceived of as being dependent on the learning environment provided by the scholarly community. Our paper explores PhD students' ideas about themselves as a part of this community, and their perceptions of their learning environment in the context of the University of Helsinki, Finland. The study is a part of a larger national research project. The present study includes data collected from three faculties: arts, medicine, and behavioral sciences. Altogether, 602 doctoral candidates responded to the survey. Results suggested that both the definitions of “scholarly community” given by the students and their experience of membership in this very community varied considerably. About one third of the PhD students did not perceive themselves as being members of any scholarly community at all. There appears to be an urgent need for more effective means of fostering PhD students' experience of active agency within scholarly communities. La qualite de la formation doctorale peut etre envisagee sous l'angle de sa dependance a l'egard de l'environnement d'apprentissage mis en place par la communaute academique. Cet article explore les idees entretenues par les doctorants a l'egard d'eux-memes au sein de cette communaute, de meme que leurs perceptions a l'egard de l'environnement d'apprentissage. Les resultat d'un sondage effectue aupres de 602 doctorants suggerent que les definitions de « communaute academique » fournies par les etudiants et leur experience d'appartenance a cette communaute varient considerablement. Il semble qu'il y ait un besoin urgent de mettre en place des moyens davantage efficaces pour favoriser une experience de participation active (active agency) des doctorants au sein des communautes academiques. Tiedeyhteiso muodostaa jatko-opiskelijan keskeisen oppimisympariston. Tassa artikkelissa keskitymme analysoimaan suomalaisten jatko-opiskelijoiden kasityksia omasta tiedeyhteisostaan ja itsestaan sen jasenina. Tutkimusaineisto on keratty osana laajempaa Helsingin yliopistossa kaynnissa olevaa “Jatko-opiskelijasta tieteelliseksi asiantuntijaksi” - tutkimushanketta. Aineisto kerattiin kyselylla, johon vastasi yhteensa 602 humanistisen, laaketieteellisen ja kayttaytymistieteellisen tiedekunnan tohtoriopiskelijaa. Tulokset osoittivat, etta opiskelijoiden kasitykset tiedeyhteisostaan ja omasta roolistaan sen jasenina vaihtelivat. Enemmisto opiskelijoista koki kuuluvansa johonkin tiedeyhteisoon. Samanaikaisesti kolmannes opiskelijoista koki itsensa ulkopuolisiksi. Se miten jatko-opiskelijat oman roolinsa tiedeyhteisossa kokivat, oli yhteydessa opiskelijan kokemaan hyvinvointiin ja opintoihin sitoutumiseen.
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Keywords: doctoral education; doctoral students' perceptions about their learning environment; scholarly community; stress

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland 2: Department of Applied Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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