In Good Company: A Collaborative Autoethnography Describing the Evolution of a Successful Doctoral Cohort

Kathryn A Wolfe, Allison Berger Nelson, Christina L Seamster
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 13  •  2018  •  pp. 293-311

The purpose of this paper is to examine the creation and organization of an organic collaborative doctoral cohort, in order to better understand what makes doctoral cohorts successful. The participant-researchers explore their experience as creators and members of this unique group.

Although adults often prefer to work on their own, cohorts provide opportunities for collaboration as well as academic and professional support. The authors explore the purposeful, knowledgeable, and relational collective learning environment created by these adult students.

Through the use of a collaborative autoethnography, the authors are able to examine the individual and collective purpose of this student-led group. This methodology allowed each participant-researcher the opportunity to reflect on their rationale for participating in an organic cohort.

While traditional cohorts match students with similar areas of focus, this study found value in the cohort’s diversity. The differing subjects and individual areas of expertise of each cohort member continuously provided a great benefit for each member of the cohort.

This study found that doctoral cohorts may be more successful if students are allowed to form them on their own. When cohorts are organically created by the members involved, the group can solidify when the timing is right for each member and for the group as a whole.

Directors of doctoral programs should encourage the formation of naturally emerging cohorts by supporting and encouraging relationships among their emerging leader-scholars.

This study examined the creation of one organic collaborative cohort; consequently, more research is needed to understand when and how other cohorts form and what the members of other cohorts view as advantageous.

While this cohort was created during a doctoral program, the practicality of organically created cohorts can be applied to training, group building, or educational programs across varying environments.

Because cohorts vary throughout universities and programs, more research is needed on why driven and dedicated individuals choose to create and dedicate themselves to cohorts, rather than working on their own.

collaborative autoethnographies, doctoral students, cohort, collaboration, higher education
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