Progresser dans la formation doctorale en sciences de l'humain et du social : individus et structure en tension

Authors: Skakni, Isabelle
Advisor: Picard, France
Abstract: This thesis addresses the challenges of progressing through PhD training in the human and social sciences. In most Western countries, universities express concern about completion times and graduation rates at the doctorate level. While, admittedly, intellectual abilities alone are not sufficient to successfully progress through a PhD program, the current knowledge indicates that modes of training and the contexts and conditions in which the training takes place also have a major impact on the process. However, few studies examine how individual and structural factors interact and impact PhD students’ paths. Based on Giddens’ theory of structuration (2005), we postulate that some traditions, practices and mentalities specific to the academic world — perpetuated, deliberately or not, by the scholarly community — likely impede students’ progress and maintain low graduation rates over time. To address this issue, we opted for a comprehensive, instrumental case study approach (Stake, 1994). Six human and social sciences faculties at a Canadian university were selected to define the case. In addition to analyzing institutional documents pertaining to PhD training in this specific context, we carried out semi-structured interviews with 36 PhD students from 19 different programs, 14 thesis supervisors and five academic administrators (program directors, deans and vice deans). Our results first provided a descriptive overview of the case under study. The specificity and the underlying challenges of the formal and tacit organization of the selected PhD training context were outlined, as well as the strategies that participants considered the most effective to progress. Second, the results verified that the challenges of PhD training in the human and social sciences are situated at the junction of individual and structural factors. Moreover, these issues may be understood at a systemic level: through their choices, attitudes and practices, PhD students, thesis supervisors and academic administrators contribute to perpetuated “expected” or “taken for granted” ways of acting and thinking, some of which potentially hinder PhD students’ progress.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2016
Open Access Date: 24 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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