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Past event

Research Conversations on Identities in Doctoral Learning and Supervision

This was a joint event between the Higher Education SIG, Youth Studies and Informal Education SIG & Early Career Researcher Network.

This event shared narratives of starting points and strategies in responding to diversity through a keynote by Dr Jessica Gagnon and then conversations between doctoral supervisors and candidates. Conversation 1 included Professor Mike Seal, his supervisor and a supervisee. Conversation 2 was by Dr Jessica Gagnon and an international candidate. Conversation 3 featured Dr Chris Rolph and a doctoral candidate discussing issues around modes of study, different degrees or non-traditional candidates and supervisors. 

Policies have increased the diversity of doctoral candidates in terms of age, race, class, disability, gender and sexuality, but also modes of study, distance, types of degrees and supervisory arrangements (Taylor et al. 2018). This increase of ‘non-traditional’ candidates through widening participation is largely welcomed but there are challenges which supervisors are encouraged to address (Eley and Jennings, 2005). There is also an increase of colleagues supervising colleagues which is under researched and under theorised (Madikizela-Madiya & Atwebembeire, 2021). It can be argued that the use of ‘non-traditional’ positions these candidates in deficit (Taylor and Goodfellow, 2020) as fundamental doctoral structures have not shifted (Seal, 2021). Adapting supervisory practice is important to support institutional policies (Gagon, 2021) by recognising the different starting points of the doctoral candidates and not following a one-size-fits-all supervisory approach (Everitt and Blackburn, 2023). Whilst a doctoral degree may separate the supervisor from the candidate, research suggests that a supervisor’s identity is also developing alongside the candidates, indicated fluidity in identity development as they are both becoming at the same time (Gravett, 2021; Pratt and Shaughnessey, 2016).   


Draft Programme:

13:00 Registration & Tea and Coffee
13:10 BERA Introduction and Rationale for the Event
13:15 The importance of responding to diversity
Dr Jess Gagnon, University of Manchester
13:45 Research Conversation 1
Professor Mike Seal, St Marys University 
14:30 Break
14:45 Research Conversation 2
Dr Jess Gagnon, University of Manchester
15:30 Research Conversation 3
Dr Chris Rolph, Nottingham Institute of Education
16:15 Actions Moving Forward
16:25 Conclusions
16:30 Event Close

Chairs and Speakers

Profile picture of Julia Everitt
Julia Everitt, Dr

Research Fellow at Birmingham City University

Dr Julia Everitt is a Post-Doctoral Researcher at Birmingham City University (BCU) and has worked in higher education as a researcher since 2014. Julia was awarded her doctorate in 2018 and as a researcher has been involved in over 30 research...

Profile picture of Kate Mawson
Kate Mawson, Dr

Principal Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University

Dr Kate Mawson has significant teaching experience across a range of institutions and has worked in Secondary and Higher Education institutions since 2002. Kate is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and a Founding Fellow of the...

Profile picture of Mike Seal
Mike Seal, Professor

Professor in youth and community education, professor in critical pedagogy and national officer at St. Marys University

I have three part-time roles: Director of the Centre for Research into the Education of Marginalised Children and Young Adults (CREMCYA) and Professor of Youth and Community Education at St Mary's University Twickenham, Professor in Critical...

Profile picture of Jessica Gagnon
Jessica Gagnon, Dr

Lecturer at University of Manchester

Dr Jessica Gagnon has worked in higher education in the US and UK for 20 years. She is a sociologist of higher education whose research is primarily focused on inequalities, particularly in STEM. Her recent projects include the RSC-funded...

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Chris Rolph, Dr

Director NIoE at Nottingham Trent University

Chris Rolph completed a PhD in astrophysics before teaching in secondary schools. During 10 years in the classroom, he achieved accreditation as an advanced skills teacher and then secured his first headship, going on to lead three schools over...