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Comparative study of researcher community support and supervisory support among Finnish and Danish PhD-students

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  • Solveig Cornér, Univ Helsinki, University of Helsinki, Finland
  • Kirsi Pyhältö, University of Helsinki, Univ Helsinki, University of Helsinki, University of Oulu, Finland
  • Jouni Peltonen, University of Oulu, Finland
  • Søren Smedegaard Bengtsen
Prior research on doctoral supervision and researcher communities has identified social support as a key determinant of the doctoral journey (Jairam & Kahl, 2012; Zhao, Golde & McCormick, 2007). Supervisory support, for instance, in terms of constructive feedback and encouragement (Pyhältö, Vekkaila & Keskinen, 2015) has shown to have a positive influence on students’ persistence (Ives & Rowley, 2005). However, we still know surprisingly little about the cross-national variation in the support experienced among doctoral students (Jairam & Kahl, 2012). This study explores experiences of researcher community and supervisory support among Danish and Finnish PhD-students within the Social Sciences and Humanities. The following research questions were addressed: (1) What differences and similarities can be detected between Danish and Finnish PhD student in a) researcher community and supervisory support experiences b) dissertation format, c) research group status d) study status (full-time/part-time), e) attrition intentions, and f) engagement in international research activities? (2) Is the support experienced associated with the a) dissertation format, b) research group status c) part-time/full-time status, d) attrition intentions, and e) engagement in international research activities? (3) What forms of support the Danish and Finnish doctoral students report? (4) How do the Danish and Finnish doctoral students perceive the support fit? Altogether, 356 doctoral students within the humanities and social sciences from two research-intensive universities in Denmark (n=145) and Finland (n=211) participated in the study. The study employed a convergent mixed methods design (Creswell & Clark, 2011), both quantitative analyses and qualitative analysis (open-ended descriptions) were employed. The results showed that, both Danish and Finnish doctoral students, emphasized researcher community support over supervisory support. The Danish students, however, reported higher levels of researcher community support and experienced lower levels of friction than their Finnish counter partners. The results indicated that the only form of support in which the students expressed more matched support than mismatched support was informational support. Further, Danish students reported a high level of mismatch in emotional support than their Finnish counter partners. The findings imply that seemingly similar regional contexts hold valid differences in experienced social support and educational strategies at the PhD level. References • Creswell, J.W. & Clark, V.L.P. (2011). Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research. London: SAGE Publications, Inc. • Ives, G. & Rowley, G. (2005). Supervisor selection or allocation and continuity of supervision: Ph.D. students’ progress and outcomes. Studies in Higher Education, 30 (5), pp.535-555 • Jairam, D. & Kahl, D.H. Jr. (2012). Navigating the Doctoral Experience: The Role of Social Support in Successful Degree Completion. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 7, 313-329. • Pyhältö, K., Vekkaila (o.s. Tuomainen), J., & Keskinen, J. (2015). Fit matters in the supervisory relationship: Doctoral students’ and supervisors’ perceptions about supervisory activities. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 52(1), 4-16. • Zhau, C-M, Golde, C.M., McCormick, A.C. (2007). More than a Signature. How Advisor Choice and Advisor Behavior Affect Doctoral Student Satisfaction. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 31(3), 263-281.
Original languageEnglish
Publication yearMay 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018
EventJustEd2018 ‘Promoting Justice through Education’ International Research Conference - Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
Duration: 22 May 201823 May 2018
http://www.justed.org/conference/

Conference

ConferenceJustEd2018 ‘Promoting Justice through Education’ International Research Conference
LocationFaculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki
CountryFinland
CityHelsinki
Period22/05/201823/05/2018
Internet address

    Research areas

  • Higher Education, Doctoral Education, Doctoral support, Doctoral supervision, Social support, mixed methods

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