Doctoral candidates as learners: a study of individual differences in responses to learning and its management
A national cohort of doctoral students (n = 1390) completed a suite of metacognitive questionnaires indicating management of affective, intellectual and contingency demands in learning. Responses to the questionnaires were analysed for evidence of individual differences in reported metacognitive behaviours. Three patterns of metacognitive response to doctoral learning were identified through cluster analysis: Constructive Engagement, Struggling to Engage and Disengaged. Central to these clusters was the quality of each student's underlying epistemic framework, and the appropriateness of that framework for doctoral study. Cluster membership was broadly independent of demographic and candidate factors. It is concluded that interventions (supervisory or institutional) need to focus on more than technical aspects of candidacy, and give explicit support to underlying epistemic growth.