Institutional Support and Student-Faculty Interaction for Postgraduate Research Engagement

Institutional Support and Student-Faculty Interaction for Postgraduate Research Engagement

Dennis Zami Atibuni (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0264-8.ch012


Quality institutional support and student-faculty interaction are critical to effective research engagement and efficient completion among higher education students. However, the research engagement of many postgraduate students in Uganda is characterised by low completion rates, longer stay on the journey, and high drop-out among others. In this interpretative phenomenological qualitative study using focus group discussions among Master of Education cohorts of 2011/2012 and 2012/2013 and seven key informant interviews among research advisors in Ugandan universities, the author explored gaps in institutional support and student-faculty interaction that negatively affected the students' research engagement. Findings revealed wanting institutional support in resources, operating procedures, organisation and communication, supervision, curricula, and student financing. Student-faculty interaction gaps included supervisor absenteeism and emotional and behavioural dereliction. Strategies to fix the gaps were also solicited. Recommendations for policy and practice were advanced.
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Study On Challenges Of Research Engagement

This study was a qualitative narrative of gaps in institutional support and student-faculty interaction that affected research engagement among Master of Education students. The target population was composed of the students who enlisted in 2011 and 2012 and their staff (Heads of Departments, Deans of Faculties, and Directors of Institutes handling Master of Education students’ research issues) in private and public universities in Uganda. Participants were drawn from universities whose Master of Education programmes were accredited in 2010 (Lejeune, 2010). The public universities included Gulu University (GU), Makerere University (MAK), and Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST). The private universities included Islamic University in Uganda (IUIU), Kampala International University (KIU), and Uganda Christian University (UCU). In total, six universities were selected.

Two focus group discussion audio recordings were obtained, the first one (FGD1_03_01_16) from a group of seven students and the second (FGD2_14_01_16) from a group of five students. The group discussion codes indicate the number of the discussion, the day, month and year of the interview. Constitution of groups for the discussions was based on residence; students of the different years of registration, though from different universities, but hailing from the same geographical location, were constituted into one group. The first discussion, attended by students from MUST (n = 3), KIU (n = 2), and MAK (n = 2), was held at MUST whereas the second, attended by students from MAK (n = 1), GU (n = 1), IUIU (n = 1), and UCU (n = 2) was held at MAK. The second discussion proved repetitive of the first, thus indicating instrument reliability and data saturation (Merton, Fiske, & Kendall, 1990).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Supervision: The process of guiding, critiquing, directing, and appraising the research process and outputs of a student in order to foster improvement and proficiency in research skills of the student.

Postgraduate Student: A student who already holds an undergraduate degree as one of the core requirements for the current programme such as a master’s programme or doctoral programme she or he is pursuing.

Institutional Support: Includes all expenses and provisions in terms of administrative services, legal and financial support, space, infrastructure, and facilities offered to postgraduate students to ease their research engagement and hence completion efficiency.

Higher Education: Education provided to degree level; bachelor’s degree, postgraduate certificate and diploma, master’s degree, doctoral degree, and postdoctoral experience.

Active and Collaborative Learning: This is a learning strategy in which learners are actively involved in the learning process, with each assigned a definite role to play within a group for a specific learning unit.

Faculty: A teaching or academic staff member of a higher education institution.

Master of Education: is a master's degree awarded to educationists who wish to specialise in a given field of education such as curriculum and instruction, counselling, educational psychology, and administration.

Research Engagement: This is a student’s emotional, physical, and psychological concentration on the pursuit of research. It involves investing in personal effort, active and collaborative learning strategies, quality student-faculty interaction, and seeking institutional support.

Student-Faculty Interaction: The quality of social and academic relationships that exist between students and their staff.

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