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The focus and substance of formative comment provided by PhD examiners

Published on Jul 3, 2014in Studies in Higher Education2.85
· DOI :10.1080/03075079.2012.750289
Allyson Holbrook13
Estimated H-index: 13
(University of Newcastle),
Sid Bourke18
Estimated H-index: 18
(University of Newcastle)
+ 1 AuthorsTerence Lovat16
Estimated H-index: 16
(University of Newcastle)
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Abstract
In practice and process PhD examination is distinctive, reflecting the high expectations of students whose learning has been directed to their becoming researchers. This article builds on previous research on the examination of Australian theses that revealed that examiners in Science (n = 542) and Education (n = 241) provide a substantial proportion of formative comment in their reports, much of which is constructed in a way that anticipates reflective engagement by the student. Detailed examination of the formative text identified nine categories of comment directed at three collective groupings of weaknesses or flaws related to less favourable recommendation. The flaws are related to ‘fundamentals’, ‘project’ and ‘argument’. There were discipline differences, including significantly more comment in Science, indicating that the candidate should attend further to the data and analysis in their project and the fundamentals of presentation. In Education there was more emphasis on improving argument.
  • References (43)
  • Citations (10)
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References43
Newest
Published on Jun 1, 2013in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education2.47
Sid Bourke18
Estimated H-index: 18
(University of Newcastle),
Allyson Holbrook13
Estimated H-index: 13
(University of Newcastle)
The examination of research theses has only relatively recently attracted research interest that has focused on what examiners do and how consistent they are. The research questions in this study address firstly whether PhD and research masters theses were treated by examiners as qualitatively different on 12 indicators of importance across the areas: contribution of the thesis, the literature review, approach and methodology, analyses and results and presentation. Secondly what was the examiner...
Published on May 1, 2012in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education2.47
Susan Carter8
Estimated H-index: 8
(University of Auckland)
Is the doctoral viva voce a reasonable method of examination? This exploratory paper proposes that the doctoral viva voce (oral examination) is a slightly different hurdle for doctoral candidates for whom English is an additional language (EAL, also termed ESL) than for those whose first language is English. It investigates the experience of 11 EAL candidates at a New Zealand university to provide phenomenographical insight to the viva voce as an assessment process. Their additional anxiety abou...
Published on Jan 1, 2012in International Journal of Educational Research1.34
Robert Cantwell11
Estimated H-index: 11
(University of Newcastle),
Jill Scevak8
Estimated H-index: 8
(University of Newcastle)
+ 1 AuthorsAllyson Holbrook13
Estimated H-index: 13
(University of Newcastle)
Abstract Understanding how candidates cope with the demands of PhD candidature is important for institutions, supervisors and candidates. Individual differences in affective and metacognitive disposition were explored in 263 PhD candidates from two Australian universities. Several questionnaires relating to affective and metacognitive beliefs were completed and analysed using one-factor congeneric modelling. A total of 20 scale scores were entered into a two-step cluster analysis which identifie...
Published on May 1, 2011in Gender and Education1.17
Barbara Crossouard11
Estimated H-index: 11
(University of Sussex)
This article reports on a recent small-scale phenomenological study into the student experience of the doctoral viva voce. It was prompted by strong concerns about viva voce processes on the part of a Director of Graduate Studies in an English university. The study involved semi-structured interviews with twenty respondents from eight English universities in a range of disciplinary areas. An initial analysis of the interviews illuminated the powerful affective dimensions of the viva voce and the...
Robert Good1
Estimated H-index: 1
The term formative assessment is often used to describe a type of assessment. The purpose of this paper is to challenge the use of this phrase given that formative assessment as a noun phrase ignores the well-established understanding that it is a process more than an object. A model that combines content, context, and strategies is presented as one way to view the process nature of assessing formatively. The alternate phrase formative use of assessment information is suggested as a more appropr...
Published on Aug 1, 2010in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education2.47
D. Royce Sadler18
Estimated H-index: 18
(Griffith University)
Giving students detailed feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of their work, with suggestions for improvement, is becoming common practice in higher education. However, for many students, feedback seems to have little or no impact, despite the considerable time and effort put into its production. With a view to increasing its effectiveness, extensive theoretical and empirical research has been carried out into its structure, timing and other parameters. For students to be able to apply fe...
Published on May 1, 2010in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education2.47
John Pryor18
Estimated H-index: 18
(University of Sussex),
Barbara Crossouard11
Estimated H-index: 11
(University of Sussex)
What if knowledge is a form of doing, an engagement between a knowing subject and what is known? What if learning is a contextualised performance involving students engaging with prospective and current social identities, and therefore an ontological as well as an epistemological accomplishment? What then becomes of formative assessment within different disciplinary pedagogies? In this paper, we open up the possibility of formative assessment as encompassing a disciplinary meta‐discourse within ...
Published on May 1, 2010in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education2.47
Margaret Price17
Estimated H-index: 17
(Oxford Brookes University),
Karen Handley13
Estimated H-index: 13
(Oxford Brookes University)
+ 1 AuthorsBerry O'Donovan7
Estimated H-index: 7
(Oxford Brookes University)
Constraints in resourcing and student dissatisfaction with assessment feedback mean that the effectiveness of our feedback practices has never been so important. Drawing on findings from a three‐year study focused on student engagement with feedback, this paper reveals the limited extent to which effectiveness can be accurately measured and challenges many of the assumptions and beliefs about effectiveness of feedback practices. Difficulties relating to multiple purposes of feedback, its tempora...
Published on Feb 1, 2010in Teaching in Higher Education1.72
Jerry Wellington16
Estimated H-index: 16
(University of Sheffield)
There has been relatively little research on the pre-conceptions of doctoral students about the final examination, the viva voce and hence there is a shortage of evidence to underpin activities designed to prepare them for this experience. The present paper, which is based upon data from a wide range of focus groups of pre-viva students, seeks to illuminate students' pre-conceptions, to site them within a teaching framework, and to consider the implications for practice and policy in preparing s...
Published on Dec 1, 2009in Studies in Higher Education2.85
Margaret Kiley15
Estimated H-index: 15
(ANU: Australian National University)
The use of external examiners in the doctoral assessment process is seen as a quality assurance process in most higher education systems. This article suggests that the selection of examiners is a critical aspect of that process. Interview analysis highlights the professional/academic considerations involved in selecting suitable examiners, as well as the somewhat more difficult to determine personality issues. Most of the findings lead to an appreciation that experienced supervisors see one of ...
Cited By10
Newest
Published on Jan 1, 2019
John A. Bowden13
Estimated H-index: 13
(RMIT: RMIT University),
Pamela J. Green2
Estimated H-index: 2
(RMIT: RMIT University)
What does it mean to be ‘doing a PhD’? There is no short answer to this question, as the PhD journey means different things to different individuals. Research pathways can take many different directions, various issues emerge along the way depending on the individual and the situation, and negotiation of relationships takes on many forms. Furthermore, the complex maze towards completion demands the uncovering of a significant, demonstrable contribution as well as capability development, both of ...
Published on Dec 1, 2017in Journal of Academic Ethics
Allyson Holbrook13
Estimated H-index: 13
(University of Newcastle),
Kerry Dally12
Estimated H-index: 12
(University of Newcastle)
+ 2 AuthorsHedy Fairbairn6
Estimated H-index: 6
(University of Newcastle)
There is an expectation that all researchers will act ethically and responsibly in the conduct of research involving humans and animals. While research ethics is mentioned in quality indicators and codes of responsible researcher conduct, it appears to have little profile in doctoral assessment. There seems to be an implicit assumption that ethical competence has been achieved by the end of doctoral candidacy and that there is no need for candidates to report on the ethical dimensions of their s...
Published on Dec 1, 2017in Linguistics and Education1.52
Sue Starfield12
Estimated H-index: 12
(UNSW: University of New South Wales),
Brian Paltridge19
Estimated H-index: 19
(USYD: University of Sydney)
+ 4 AuthorsHedy Fairbairn6
Estimated H-index: 6
(University of Newcastle)
Abstract One of the principal roles of a PhD examiner is to judge ‘both the potential of the researcher and the quality of the research’ ( Holbrook, Bourke, Fairbairn, & Lovat, 2014 , p. 986). While examiners may be guided by criteria supplied by universities, the descriptors they are provided with can often be open to interpretation. Interpreting an examiner's report can present a challenge to students and their supervisors, exacerbated by the often ambiguous use of language in the reports. Thi...
Published on Nov 17, 2017in Active Learning in Higher Education2.29
David Hodgson4
Estimated H-index: 4
The examination of a PhD thesis marks an important stage in the PhD student journey. Here, the student’s research, thinking and writing are assessed by experts in their field. Yet, in the early stages of candidature, students often do not know what is expected of their thesis, nor what examiners will scrutinise and comment on. However, what examiners look for, expect and comment on has been the subject of recent research. This article synthesises the literature on examiner expectations into a fr...
Published on Jan 2, 2017in Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education2.47
Neil Harrison7
Estimated H-index: 7
(Macquarie University),
Michelle Trudgett7
Estimated H-index: 7
(UTS: University of Technology, Sydney),
Susan Page11
Estimated H-index: 11
(UTS: University of Technology, Sydney)
Indigenous Australians represent 2.2% of the working age population, yet account for only 1.4% of all university enrolments. In relation to higher degree research students, Indigenous Australians account for 1.1% of enrolments, but only 0.8% of all higher degree research completions. This paper reports on findings that emerged from an Australian Research Council-funded study which aimed to establish a model of best practice for the supervision of Indigenous doctoral students. The project identif...
Published on Jan 1, 2017
Ronel Erwee8
Estimated H-index: 8
,
Chad Perry9
Estimated H-index: 9
Elena Prieto10
Estimated H-index: 10
(University of Newcastle),
Allyson Holbrook13
Estimated H-index: 13
(University of Newcastle),
Sid Bourke18
Estimated H-index: 18
(University of Newcastle)
In recent years, there have been increasing calls for an overall transformation of the nature of engineering Ph.D. programs and the way theses are assessed. There exists a need to understand the examination process to ensure the best quality outcome for candidates in engineering. The work we present in this paper uses data collected between 2003 and 2010 for a total of 1220 Australian Ph.D. theses by analysing examiner reports. Our analysis indicates that Ph.D. theses in engineering, N = 106, di...
Published on Sep 1, 2015in Linguistics and Education1.52
Sue Starfield12
Estimated H-index: 12
(UNSW: University of New South Wales),
Brian Paltridge19
Estimated H-index: 19
(USYD: University of Sydney)
+ 5 AuthorsTerry Lovat6
Estimated H-index: 6
(University of Newcastle)
Abstract Despite their high stakes nature, examiners’ reports on doctoral theses are a relatively unexplored genre. Very little work has been done, further, on how evaluative language constructs meanings in the reports. To better understand the evaluative language used in the reports, this study analyses the examination criteria established by a university in New Zealand and draws on the appraisal framework to examine 142 examiners’ reports from that institution. We explore the examiners’ report...
Allyson Holbrook13
Estimated H-index: 13
(University of Newcastle),
Sid Bourke18
Estimated H-index: 18
(University of Newcastle),
Hedy Fairbairn6
Estimated H-index: 6
(University of Newcastle)
As we were aware of the confusing and wide-ranging disciplinary and individual positions on the importance of theory in research, this study sought to determine how thesis examiners emphasised theory in their reports in order to inform candidate learning. While references to theory were not prominent in reports, examiner comment coalesced into six categories indicative of ‘accuracy and completeness’, ‘grasp’, ‘alignment’, ‘coherence and consistency’, ‘treatment of findings and discussion’, and ‘...
Published on Jan 1, 2015
Neville Clement12
Estimated H-index: 12
,
Terence Lovat16
Estimated H-index: 16
+ 6 AuthorsDennis M. McInerney1
Estimated H-index: 1
Abstract Evaluation of research is a core function of academic work, yet there has been very little theoretical development about what it means to ‘know’ in relation to judgements made in examination of doctoral research. This chapter addresses the issue by reflecting on findings from three projects aimed at enhancing understanding of doctoral examination. In order to progress understanding about knowledge judgements in the doctoral research context, the chapter draws on two key contributions in...