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Paul Walker

Page history last edited by sceptrept 11 years, 4 months ago

Postgraduate research training courses as professional development?

Paul Walker and Jenny Marie, University College of London


Our paper addresses questions of the potential for professional development beyond the confines of the work environment and the home discipline of postgraduate students undertaking research degrees, in particular professional doctorates (e.g. EngD) and Master of Research programmes. The postgraduate modules we provide for this constituency (entitled ‘Professional Development in Practice’ and ‘Issues in Research Practice’) occupy and explore the intermediate territory between Donald Schön’s (1987) “swamp” of real professional work and the academic “high ground” of institutional education. The experience of students working through the learning tasks in these modules, as evidenced in their outputs and reflections, appear to indicate that valuable learning opportunities, which might not otherwise be apparent to them, arise in this zone, The design of these modules is based on the assumption that, especially in postgraduate research degrees, all of the essential ingredients for ‘being professional;’ are overtly available in the learning environment, with the integrating agent being the students’ recognition of this and their autonomous and responsible engagement in the working conversation. On this assumption, students are exposed to and engaged in the discourse of professionalism as well as professional practice across a range of disciplines and sectors. This approach has demonstrated significant success in students’ recognition and development of professional skills and attributes. A strong feature of this paper will be the voice of the students themselves, offering insight into the experience and outcomes of this learning process.



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