A peer support model for doctoral students: PALs for PhD's

Sisson, Kelly and Vos, Jolien (2015) A peer support model for doctoral students: PALs for PhD's. In: UK Council for Graduate Education: 2nd International Conference on Developments in Doctoral Education and Training, 30-31 March 2015, University of Oxford.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


Research education is dominated by the individualistic ‘apprenticeship’ model in which doctoral students learn primarily from their supervisors (Kwiram, 2006). For many students this leads to a sense of isolation and loneliness and does not help prepare them for the largely collaborative world of academic research and peer review (Bond & Thompson, 1996). The current alternative to the apprenticeship model is the institutional approach of cohort based programmes. While cohorts can lead to enhanced social, personal and educational outcomes for students (Lei et al 2011) they are only successful where appropriate resources and administrative structures exist (Bista & Cox, 2014). This prohibits their adoption by less research intensive Universities.

PALs for PhD’s is proposed as an alternative approach to research education, bringing together one-to-one supervision and peer assisted learning to create a community of practice without the need for administrative restructuring. The scheme uses action learning set methodology to create a structured learning environment in which PhD students can explore and find solutions to the problems they are facing with the support of their peers. Unlike the cohort approach and traditional Peer Assisted Study Skills (PASS) schemes favoured in Undergraduate education, PALs draws together students from different discipline backgrounds and different stages in their doctoral journey.

This presentation will outline the model in more detail, describe the findings from two focus groups conducted to evaluate the student experience and share the scheme co-ordinators reflections on lessons learned from the project for those considering the implementation of peer support for research development within their own institutions.

Keywords:Postgraduate Research Students, Peer Support
Subjects:X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
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ID Code:26718
Deposited On:16 Mar 2017 11:46

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