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Pursuing a doctoral education is a journey that comes with hurdles that will challenge the learning abilities of a doctoral student. A doctoral student aims to uncover new knowledge and to become a researcher. It is important to use strategies to enhance the learning patterns of the student. The learning environment also plays a role in facilitating a successful journey for the students. There are resources, technology and tools available for students to use. The challenge is how to use these resources for a productive learning environment.
Learning Experiences Prior to the Doctoral Learning Experience
The purpose and expectations of a doctoral student prior to the doctoral journey create an impact to their leaning experiences. The focus is on the end result of the doctoral journey and not on the process of going through this journey. The expectations of a doctoral student in accomplishing this purpose creates an emotional stress on the doctoral student. The doctoral students come with a higher level of knowledge mastery. When they are faced with new concepts in a new learning environment, the student loses confidence and feel inadequate to meet the demands of the doctoral journey.
According to Vermont & Verloop (1999), it is important to create a congruence between the learning pattern and environment. The learning environment should provide resources and tools that enhance the learning styles of the student. For active and creative learners, it is recommended to use a learning environment enhances independent learning opportunities. For the passive learners, there should be a gradual transition to self-regulated learning pattern and environment.
(Loyd, Harding-Dekam & Hamilton, 2015) identified two barriers to the success of a doctoral student: cognitive and affective. Students become disconnected as they are unable to connect mastery of knowledge to new concepts. It is also evident that the students lack the skills of scholarly writing. The affective barriers include feeling of isolation and loss of identity. The students are viewed as competent in their own field until they decided to go back to school. The students lost their grip as they try to un-break the new grounds of learning.
The Autonomous Nature of Doctoral Learning
Chic (2007) mentioned that the student’s ability to use own identity to learn can foster autonomous learning. The student needs to explore own experiences, accept the emergence of new perspectives and negotiate for an environment that enhances practice and learning. The student must learn how to make connections, find resources and interact with other learners to facilitate learning. Technology plays a huge impact in developing the learning styles of the students. It is the student’s responsibility to initiate, select and utilize technology to promote scholarly work.
Educators and leaders are key components in enhancing the learning experiences of the students. The role of the educators is to facilitate learning strategies, deploy resources and tools, promote decision making and enhance autonomous teaching styles.
Doctor of nursing orientation webinar.
The webinar discussed the importance of autonomy to the success in the DNP program. The webinar emphasized learning strategies promote independent learning. Time management will always be the biggest challenge to hurdle in maintaining a realistic work-life balance. The GCU Portal offers resources, tools, and online support to assist the learning needs of the students. The webinar also has access to network resources such as IS library, counselor, and faculty-individual forums.
Literature review of five scholarly articles related to doctoral programs strategies.
Performing literature review search using the keywords strategies for doctoral education revealed multiple science journals that talk about strategies and challenges to support doctoral education. Pifer, M.J. & Baker, V.L (2016) conducted a research on the challenges of the doctoral education across the disciplines: students, faculty and organization. They presented their findings by giving an overview of the research education and its recommendation. Zeynep and Funda (2013) presented the opinions of the doctoral students and how they hurdle the challenges of doctoral education. Browne-Ferrigno, T., & Muth, R. (2012) advocates for leaner-centered instructional activities that promote autonomous learning. Katerina, S. (n.d.).stresses that the doctoral education will provide an avenue for nurses internationally to advocate for nursing and healthcare. Merrill, J. A., Yoon, S., Larson, E., Honig, J., & Reame, N. (2013) explored the impact of social network to foster collaboration between PhD and DNP students.
Recommended specific strategies.
The strategies that would make an impact to autonomous learning include: recognizing learner’s identity, developing a leaner environment across the disciplines that promote self-regulated learning; use of technology, resources and tools and collaboration with students, faculty and organizations to gain new insights and new perspectives.
- Ketefian, S. (n.d.). Doctoral education in the context of international development strategies. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF NURSING STUDIES, 45(10), 1401–1402. https://doi-org.lopes.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.ijnurstu.2008.02.002
- Loyd, S., Harding-DeKam, J., and Hamilton, B. (2014) “Hazards to the Doctoral Journey: Guidance for New Doctoral Students,” Journal of Educational Research and Innovation: Retrieved October 2, 2019 from https://digscholarship.unco.edu/jeri/vol4/iss1/2
- Merrill, J. A., Yoon, S., Larson, E., Honig, J., & Reame, N. (2013). Using social network analysis to examine collaborative relationships among PhD and DNP students and faculty in a research-intensive university school of nursing. Nursing Outlook, 61(2), 109–116. https://doi-org.lopes.idm.oclc.org/10.1016/j.outlook.2012.08.001
- Pifer, M. J., & Baker, V. L. (2016). Stage-based challenges and strategies for support in doctoral education: a practical guide for students, faculty members, and program administrators. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 15. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.lopes.idm.oclc.org/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgao&AN=edsgcl.450999561&site=eds-live&scope=site
- Tricia Browne-Ferrigno, & Rodney Muth. (2012). Use of Learner-Centered Instructional Strategies in Higher Education: Doctoral Student Assessments. International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, (2). https://doi-org.lopes.idm.oclc.org/10.20429/ijsotl.2012.060223
- Vekkaila, J., Pyhältö, K. (2012). Doctoral Student Learning Patterns: Learning about Active Knowledge Creation or Passive Production. International Journal of higher education, 5(2), 222-235. Retrieved October 2, 1019 from https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1099817.pdf
- Vermunt, J. D., & Verloop, N. (1999). Congruence and friction between learning and teaching. Learning and Instruction, 9(3), 257-280. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0959-4752(98)00028-0
- Zeynep Medine ÖZMEN, & Funda AYDIN GÜÇ. (2013). Challenges in Doctoral Education and Coping Strategies: A Case Study. Yükseköğretim ve Bilim Dergisi, (3), 214. https://doi-org.lopes.idm.oclc.org/10.5961/jhes.2013.079
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