Misfits Between Doctoral Students and Their Supervisors: (How) Are They Regulated?

Christelle Devos, Gentiane Boudrenghien, Nicolas Van der Linden, Mariane Frenay, Assaad Azzi, Benoit Galand, Olivier Klein
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 11  •  2016  •  pp. 467-486
The purpose of the present study is to explore the “misfits” occurring between doctoral students and their supervisors. More precisely, we investigate the types of incongruences that occur, whether and how they are regulated and their consequences on students’ outcomes. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 21 former PhD students (8 completers and 13 non-completers). Results show that, when facing a misfit, PhD students either (1) learn to live with it and/or turn to alternate resources, (2) suffer from it without being able to address the problem with their supervisor, (3) address the issue with their supervisor and try to solve it in various ways, or (4) are unable to address the issue because it reached a point of no return. Further, types of misfit regulation are likely to have an influence on students’ motivation and engagement. These results are discussed in the light of person-environment fit, coping, emotional regulation, and conflict management frameworks.
PhD students, doctoral attrition, supervisor support, fit, coping
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