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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

A Response To Drop-out Rates

Blacklock, Paul and Hughes, Mark (2023) A Response To Drop-out Rates. In: FES Conference 2023, 12 Jun 23, St Peter's Campus, University of Sunderland.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)


What the innovation is

Academics currently undertaking Doctoral study often have a limited understanding of how to build on their research and become prominent in their field.

Coaching and mentoring are related ways for individuals to take ownership of their own development and/or learn from more experienced professionals.

My M.Ed dissertation focussed on the transfer of coaching skills taught in the classroom in the military to practice in the field army. Academics can learn about the elements they need for a successful research career, though translation from classroom to practice is needed. This is where coaching and/or mentoring communities can help academics take ownership and shape their research in order to make meaning (Vygotsky,1978).

The innovation is seeking to establish a formalised support mechanism for individuals completing Doctoral study. This should develop parity of experience across different Doctoral pathways. To be effective as a Doctoral level researcher individuals need to demonstrate ‘Doctoralness’ beyond the specifics of their initial research.

How it addresses the conference theme

The relatively high failure rate for Doctoral level study is 19.5%. Social and economic factors could influence this failure rate. Being able to navigate the research environment and the future broader applicability of the skills being learnt could be a barrier for individuals who have no prior family or social connections who have studied at this level.

Why the idea should be explored further

The role of a Director of Studies and supervisor is not clearly defined. Additionally, there is no agreed definition of coaching and mentoring. For discussion purposes we’ll use the following definitions. Tim Gallway in Whitmore (2009) defines coaching as: ‘coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them’ (Whitmore 2009, p10). ‘The mentor is someone – usually more senior or experienced – who is appointed or chosen to help and advise another employee’ (Downey 2002, p23).

Whilst studying at doctoral level support is provided from a DoS and supervisor, this may be more task orientated over people, in opposition to Blake and Mouton (1991) who state that people and task are of equal importance. Coaching and mentoring are fundamentally both personal development structures; the idea should be explored further in order to blend people and task.

Early drop out rates in Doctoral students has previously been identified, an enhanced support system could help address this.

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More Information

Depositing User: Paul Blacklock


Item ID: 16705

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Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2023 11:01
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2023 11:01


Author: Paul Blacklock
Author: Mark Hughes

University Divisions

Faculty of Education and Society > School of Education


Education > Educational Research
Education > Higher Education

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