Carving a Career Identity as PhD Supervisor: A South African Autoethnographic Case Study

Maximus Monaheng Sefotho
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 13  •  2018  •  pp. 539-557

This article demonstrates how experiences of a supervisee can become foundational in carving a career identity of PhD supervisors. The purpose of the article is to analyze how South African emerging supervisors could carve a career identity as PhD supervisors.

This article uses an autoethnographic case study to address the problem of experiences of poverty, marginalization and scarcity towards resilience in academia.

The article followed a qualitative methodology anchored on the constructivist-interpretive paradigm. The design of the study was a single ethnographic case study. This was an autoethnographic non-traditional inquiry of the author’s PhD journey. For a period of six years, the author used autoethnography to inquire about personal experience of PhD supervision. Central to the methods used were reflexive critical and narrative analysis, and observation as action research of the culture of PhD supervision.

This article contributes insight into PhD supervision and carving a career by using real time experiences of a PhD Supervision journey as a student, as a supervisor and trainee in a formalized supervision program.

The article’s major actual findings were: Need for training in philosophy and educational research and in-service PhD supervision training.

The study indicates that universities could examine whether they should intensify their efforts to train PhD supervisors towards developing supervision as a career. Emerging supervisors could be encouraged to consider engaging in training and carving careers out of PhD supervision.

Autoethnographic research could be intensified as it is positioned to provide first-hand information and provide dialogic spaces for silenced voices in less transformed universities.

PhD supervision is recommended to be geared towards developing home-grown models and theories for resolving teaching and learning problems as well as making in-roads into socio-economic development.

This study demonstrates the usefulness of individual experiences in selecting benchmarks for context appropriate models. The study suggests that future research could rely more on qualitative methods in addition to the widely used quantitative ones. A mixed methods approach seems to be a promising direction.

autoethnography, career identity, PhD supervision, philosophy, reflexivity
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