Identity positioning of doctoral students in networked learning environments

Koole, Marguerite and Parchoma, Gale (2013) Identity positioning of doctoral students in networked learning environments. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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As the highest degree awarded, successful completion of a doctorate demands that learners work at a conceptual level. The demands of independent, original research intended to extend knowledge in a field can lead to oscillating feelings of confidence, acceptance, and belonging—intellectually and socially. Exposure to new ideas, norms, and ethics can cause learners to question their position within their various social contexts. The descriptions of doctoral experiences of identity positioning in networked learning environments is the focus of this thesis. I set out to examine to what extent doctoral students in two NL programs experience identity positioning; how they describe this process; and whether or not positioning might be described differently by students in different fields. This investigation took place at a distance university in Canada in which the learners used networking technologies to exchange information and discuss ideas. Participants were solicited from doctoral courses offered via networked learning in education and business. The main method of data collection was semi-structured interviews. The interviews were transcribed and coded through qualitative open coding in which I sought themes indicative of social positioning. Discourse analysis was also used to aid in the analysis of interview transcripts, allowing deeper interrogation of the meanings of and relationships between specific utterances appearing within the transcripts. The results indicate that doctoral students experience identity positioning across multiple aspects of their lives including, but not limited to their social, intimate, professional, and academic contexts. The importance of this work is partially directed towards the concerns of governments and funding agencies that may pass over the intangible benefits of doctoral studies in search of direct and measureable economic and social outcomes. More importantly, this work is intended to draw attention to the variety of social contexts that may impact doctoral students’ experiences, and how these influences might influence learners’ persistence, completion, and enjoyment of doctoral studies.

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Thesis (PhD)
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01 May 2013 13:41
Last Modified:
24 Mar 2024 00:02