Employable scholars: their transition as professional educators

Sarah Floyd, Vicky Davies

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


Previously, doctoral study was perceived as a necessary apprenticeship for subsequent academic careers, with the expectation that PhD researchers would be able to learn all they needed about this future employment from their supervisors (McAlpine & Åkerlind, 2010). However, the last decade has seen a significant shift from the elite few achieving this highest-level qualification to the massification of global doctoral opportunities, implying an attendant divergence of employment opportunities for graduates (Kehm et al,2018). Commensurate with this, early career opportunities in academia have become scarcer, more demanding in expectations and often precarious in nature (Pitt & Mewburn, 2016). Regardless of this changing context a significant proportion of doctoral candidates - 51% according to Advance-HE’s 2018 PRES - continue to visualize themselves as career academics (Beaton, 2017; Chadha, 2013; Edwards et al, 2011). The primary focus of PhD researchers was however deemed to be just that, opportunities to engage in L&T were seen as adjunct to doctoral studies, and mirrored by the separation of respective institutional portfolios: consequently those tasked with guiding PhD researchers in these, perceived as distinct, areas of practice seldom sought out opportunities for collaboration (Marsh & Hattie, 2002; Kinchin et al, 2009).To gain insight into current UK recruitment expectations for early career academics the authors conducted a snapshot review of lecturer and teaching fellow posts advertised on the recruiting site jobs.ac.uk. The posts, ranged from research-intensive institutions to teaching focused ones, all used language clearly indicating that they were targeted at applicants who were recent doctoral candidates: 95% of advertisements expected applicants to have a proven track -record of HE teaching. This presentation will illustrate, through a longitudinal case study based in a large UK university, how a collaboration between educational developers and the Doctoral College focusing on developing professional capabilities and experience as HE educators during doctoral study, prepares and enhances the employment potential of those committed totransitioning to a career in academia. Key themes explored include how an Advance HE accredited course can support doctoral researchers to develop not only their skills as educators but also their academic identity, voice and resilience thus positioning them with the potential and cultural capital to survive as more rounded early career academics.Advance-HE (2018). Postgraduate Research Experience Survey. Advance-HE, York.Retrieved from: https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/institutions/surveys/postgraduate-researchexperience-survey20/11/18Beaton, F. (2017). Just in time and future-proofing? Policy, challenges and theprofessional development of part-time teachers. International Journal for AcademicDevelopment, 22:1, 19-30. DOI: 10.1080/1360144X.2016.1261354Chadha, D. (2013). Reconceptualising and reframing graduate teaching assistant (GTA)provision for a research-intensive institution. Teaching in Higher Education, 18:2, 205-217. DOI:10.1080/13562517.2012.696537Edwards, D., Bexley, E., & Richardson, S. (2011). Regenerating the academic workforce:The careers, intentions and motivations of higher degree research students in Australia:Findings of the National Research Student Survey (NRSS). Retrievedfrom https://research.acer.edu.au/higher_education/23/ 07/08/18Kehm B.M., Freeman R.P.J., Locke W. (2018) Growth and Diversification of DoctoralEducation in the United Kingdom. In: Shin J., Kehm B., Jones G. (eds) Doctoral Educationfor the Knowledge Society. Knowledge Studies in Higher Education. Springer, Champp105-121DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-89713-4_7Kinchin I.M., Hatzipabagos S. & Turner N. (2009) Epistemological separation of researchand teaching among graduate teaching assistants, Journal of Further and HigherEducation 33:1, pp45-55DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/03098770802638267Marsh H.W. & Hattie. J (2002) The relation between research productivity and teachingeffectiveness: Complementary, antagonistic, or independent? Journal of Higher Education73:5, pp603-641McAlpine, L. & Åkerlind, G. (2010) Academic Practice in a Changing InternationalLandscape in McAlpine, L. & Åkerlind, G. (Eds) (2010) Becoming an Academic:International Perspectives. Basingstoke, Palgrave McMillan. pp1-15Pitt, R. & Mewburn, I. (2016). Academic superheroes? A critical analysis of academic jobdescriptions, Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management, 38:1, 88-101. DOI: 10.1080/1360080X.2015.1126896Wilson, R (n.d) The Profile of a Modern Teacherhttps://wayfaringpath.coetail.com/2014/10/14/the-profile-of-a-modern-teacher/ accessed21/11/18
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2019
EventStaff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) Spring Teaching, Learning and Assessment Conference: Collaboration to support the student experience and progression - Clayton Hotel, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Duration: 9 May 201910 May 2019


ConferenceStaff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) Spring Teaching, Learning and Assessment Conference
Country/TerritoryNorthern Ireland
Internet address


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