Preparing Doctoral Students for the Professoriate through a Formal Preparatory Course
This study aimed to investigate doctoral student preparation for the professoriate through a formal course entitled “The Professoriate.”
Many studies addressed the need for improved graduate preparation, however, the study of doctoral student experiences in preparation courses, designed as part of the doctoral academic programs, has received less attention.
Eleven doctoral students (one withdrew from the study) were enrolled in a formal course that was designed to prepare them for the professoriate. The study was conducted using an ethnographic case study approach with multiple data collection methods that included observation, interviews, member checking, and examination of related documents.
Acquainted with critical realist ontology, the researchers argued that it was necessary to investigate the concerns and preparation of doctoral students in order to better clarify the complex experiences that underlie their practices of making meaning and maintaining balance and well-being in the professoriate.
Three prominent themes emerged that pointed out the experience of doctoral students with regard to their preparation for the professoriate: (1) Perceived concerns with regard to working in the professoriate; (2) Students’ preparatory practices and preparatory opportunities available to them; and (3) Students’ perspectives about “The Professoriate” course and its value.
The findings highlighted that educators in doctoral programs need to address and evaluate students’ concerns and preparatory activities in order to make adjustments for students that enhance their success in the program as well as in the professoriate in future.
The findings suggest further research into the formal preparatory opportunities available for students within doctoral programs and the barriers affecting students’ ability to participate in informal preparatory activities.
The findings supported the importance of providing formal preparatory courses as part of doctoral programs. Formal courses within doctoral programs allow students to devote their time for preparation which will help them to better understand the professoriate and plan for their careers.
Future research may continue the study of formal opportunities to prepare for the professoriate that are available for doctoral students from different disciplines, the experiences of doctoral students taking part in such opportunities, and the impact on doctoral student readiness for the professoriate.