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Socialization To The Professoriate Through Research Collaboration: Examining What Engineering Doctoral Students Aspiring To Faculty Careers Learn From Faculty Mentors

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Mentoring Graduate Students

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1064.1 - 14.1064.11



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Paper Authors


Tonya Saddler Northwestern University

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Dr. Tonya N. Saddler is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Northwestern University.

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Elizabeth Creamer Virginia Tech

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Dr. Elizabeth G. Creamer is a Professor of Educational Research and Evaluation at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech).

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Socialization to the professoriate through research collaboration: Examining what engineering doctoral students aspiring to faculty careers learn from faculty mentors


This qualitative study explored the socialization process of engineering doctoral students committed to a career as a faculty member. Using qualitative methods, 20 engineering doctoral students from four Predominately White Research Institutions (PWRIs) were interviewed to understand how research collaborations some doctoral students have with faculty members prepared them for a future faculty role. Findings suggest that engineering doctoral students learn about the complexities of a faculty role that include the various duties and expectations of faculty members (e.g., securing external funding, managing a research team, managerial aspect of operating from a grant). Engineering doctoral students also learn about the importance of (or value placed on) securing external funding to support research.

Introduction and Related Literature Review

According to some scholars, there exists a mismatch between faculty expectations and current doctoral training in graduate programs in the US1,11,8 . For example, the focus on research in graduate education, the growth of contingent faculty members, the diversity of institutional types, and the ever changing nature of faculty roles all contribute to the changing demographics of American colleges and universities, consequently changing faculty employment practices. The preparation of doctoral students then should include a variety of learning experiences that equip newly minted doctoral holders with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to be successful in this changing environment12,13 .

The preparation of doctoral students in research is one area said to be mismatched, with scholars contending that faculty members are still functioning as usual. That is, faculty members are socializing (or cloning) doctoral students to be researchers like themselves14,15,1 . There is also the assumption that doctoral students will assume faculty positions in programs and in institutions similar to the programs and institutions they were trained in11 . Another line of research posits that doctoral students assist faculty members with research that further promotes the faculty member’s research agenda but may not advance (or reflect) the student’s research interests1 . Still others contend that these limitations in the training of doctoral students are not likely to change because they have worked well for tenured faculty members in the past14 .

Conceptual Framework

The Graduate and Professional Student Socialization Model7 offers the most comprehensive framework for understanding the socialization process for doctoral students. It suggests that graduate students are socialized in their departments and respective fields as they learn the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in their programs and fields, interact with faculty members and peers, and become involved in various activities within their fields7. Figure 1 displays the conceptual model. One of the core elements (knowledge acquisition) of the model is the focus of this paper.

Saddler, T., & Creamer, E. (2009, June), Socialization To The Professoriate Through Research Collaboration: Examining What Engineering Doctoral Students Aspiring To Faculty Careers Learn From Faculty Mentors Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4611

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