Examining Scholar-Practitioner Identity in Peer-Led Research Communities in Higher Education Programs

Genia M. Bettencourt, Victoria K. Malaney, Caitlin J. Kidder, Chrystal A. George Mwangi
Journal for the Study of Postsecondary and Tertiary Education  •  Volume 2  •  2017  •  pp. 095-113
Aim/Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore how research skills and communities can be promoted in student affairs and/or higher education graduate preparation programs through a peer-led, team-based model.

Background: Numerous scholars emphasized a lack of empirical research being conducted by student affairs professionals, even though integration of scholarship with practice remains of critical importance to field of higher education.

Methodology: Though a descriptive case study of a graduate research course, we engage both quantitative and qualitative data points in a convergent parallel mixed methods design.

Contribution: This study provides an important contribution in understanding how graduate programs may better prepare students to engage within a spectrum of scholar-practitioner identity.

Findings: Findings suggest that while participants see value in a scholar-practitioner identity and its impact on their future goals, there is often a discrepancy between the perceived feasibility of embodying the role in actual student affairs practice as well as variations across master’s and doctoral student levels.

Recommendations for Practitioners: Recommendations for practice include working to integrate scholarship in professional positions and promoting greater collaboration between graduate coursework and professional supervisors.

Recommendation for Researchers: Recommendations for researchers include continuing to examine how communities of practice develop across the levels of graduate socialization.

Impact on Society: Understanding how individuals engage in scholarship in their fields carries interdisciplinary implications for merging research into professional roles.

Future Research: A key area for future research is longitudinal inquiry into how emerging professionals in higher education/student affairs negotiate the scholar-practitioner spectrum across career development.
Scholar-Practitioner, Student Affairs, Graduate Preparation, Communities of Practice
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