Scholarly Voice and Academic Identity: A Systematic Review of Doctoral Student Agency

Scholarly Voice and Academic Identity: A Systematic Review of Doctoral Student Agency

Kenneth L. Rigler Jr. (Fort Hays State University, USA), Christina Maria Anastasia (Colorado Technical University, USA), Abeni El-Amin (University of the Cumberlands, USA) and Robin Throne (University of the Cumberlands, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-7267-2.ch004
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Abstract

This chapter presents the results of a systematic review of the current scholarship into doctoral student agency from a U.S. perspective. In past work, the authors and others have explored doctoral student and research supervisor agency from the perspective of scholar-practitioner agency within the doctoral learning community as well as the post-doctorate practice-based research agenda. This chapter focuses on a systematic analysis of the current scholarship published since 2019 that has continued to examine the aspects of doctoral student voice, agency, academic identity, and dissemination of graduate student research. Theoretical perspectives are drawn from the scholarship of situated learning theory and other theories that define how and why doctoral students are able to move from the periphery of the doctoral learning community to entrance into the scholarly academic and publishing community.
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Introduction

The research into student agency has remained ongoing and many factors have been shown to influence the enhancement of doctoral student agency. Numerous past researchers, including the chapter authors, have noted the specific attributes, traits, characteristics, and qualities that form doctoral student agency as well as considerations for the agentive and agentic characteristics. An evolved doctoral student agency may aid persistence and completion of the doctoral program as well as engagement with the scholarly community and dissemination of graduate research. Other scholars have highlighted the role of doctoral student agency in the attainment of academic careers post-doctorate as well as the strategies and techniques for research supervisors to ensure quality development of agency for their dissertation candidates. In past work, the chapter authors have defined doctoral student agency as the belief in a student’s ability to initiate an active role in one’s own learning setting, content, process, and engagement (Sweat et al., 2021). In addition, they have conducted work into dissertation research supervisor agency and found the chair-candidate relationship a critical factor in candidate persistence to completion (Rigler et al., 2017; Throne & Oddi, 2019; Throne & Walters, 2019).

Subsequently, LaFrance et al. (2020) recommended dissertation research supervisors should use their agency to ensure the doctoral program provides adequate student supports and feedback for dissertation completion. Yet, the authors also called for further research associated with doctoral students such as the socioemotional factors addressed in doctoral education (LaFrance et al., 2020). Further, van der Laan et al. (2021) noted it as essential to support postgraduate student wellbeing. While the prior research has delved into dissertation research supervisor agency, less examination has been done on doctoral student agency. For purposes of this chapter, the authors have considered the various aspects of the student’s positionality and socioemotional wellbeing as a part of that positionality and the academic self. The aim of this chapter is to consider findings from a systematic review of the current scholarship between 2019-2021 to ascertain new knowledge and perspectives on the various aspects of what may referred to as doctoral student agency. Findings were considered through the lens of situated learning theory and a situated dissertation advising framework, constructed previously by the chapter authors.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Doctoral Learning Community: The doctoral learning community is typically a multi-faceted community of practice to support doctoral education and the research supports necessary for quality doctoral research as well as for new investigator agency and development ( Throne, 2020 ).

Communities of Practice (CoP): Lave and Wenger (1991) coined the term CoP to illustrate any group who engages in collective learning within a particular domain. As a CoP, the doctoral learning community supplies a social network to allow for the doctoral scholar’s agency enhancement including development as an independent investigator.

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