The Socialization for Teaching: Factors Related to Teaching Career Aspirations for Doctoral Students of Color

Jeffrey K Grim, Heeyun Kim, Christina S Morton, Robert M DeMonbrun
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 16  •  2021  •  pp. 449-467

The purpose of our study was to gain a better understanding of the socialization factors that contribute to the aspirations of doctoral students of Color to pursue teaching careers.

Internationally, there has been a renewed call to diversify the professoriate. While the literature often examines early pathway issues and hiring bias, one efficient solution is to continue encouraging the socialization of those doctoral students of Color already interested in pursuing a teaching career.

We used a sample of 2,717 doctoral candidates of Color from over 221 doctoral-granting institutions in the USA who completed a survey about their graduate experiences. The sample of participants indicated they aspired to a teaching career at the beginning of their doctoral study, yet not all were interested in the same career choice by the end.

To analyze our data we used Logistic Regression Modeling (LOGIT) to test which socialization factors (i.e., anticipatory, formal, informal, and personal) contribute to teaching career aspirations.

We found that factors associated with anticipatory and personal socialization contributed greatest to the continued aspiration of being a teaching faculty member, along with teaching experience. These results are somewhat different than previous literature and practice that places a greater emphasis on formal and informal socialization experiences as contributing to a future teaching faculty career.

Anticipatory (publishing before the start of a PhD program), formal (teaching experience), and personal socialization (sense of belonging) were most related to aspirations to pursue a teaching faculty career, while more factors more traditional in the literature (e.g., relationship with advisor, career and research support, etc.) were not significantly correlated with the desire to pursue a teaching faculty career.

We recommend that faculty advisors, graduate education administrators, and academic leaders pay close attention to the personal and social development of doctoral students of Color in order to sustain their interest in teaching in higher education. In addition, it is important for academic leaders to recognize doctoral socialization begins before a student enters a PhD program, so more attention should be given to the opportunities for undergraduate students of Color to learn about the academy through research and publication.

Doctoral socialization as a topic of study has continued to be of interest to scholars, but there are more quantitative and mixed-method scholarship that could be used to influence academic leaders and policymakers. In addition, scholars should continue to complicate and refine graduate socialization theory in order to understand and represent racially diverse populations.

Multiple interventions will be needed in order to increase the amount of faculty of Color in the professoriate but improving pre-PhD experiences and sense of belonging for doctoral students of Color could be a targeted policy intervention for academic leaders. As researchers and practitioners in the field are looking for ways to better support doctoral students of Color, a nuanced understanding of developmental needs is essential not only for graduation but for intended career aspiration.

With these findings, we offer opportunities for future research to further our understanding of socialization for doctoral students of Color. Future studies should include more robust measures of socialization factors along with longitudinal research designs in order to understand the temporal developmental needs for students of Color along multiple pathways to the professoriate.

graduate education, doctoral socialization, race, sense of belonging, teaching
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