Preparing PhD Candidates for Non-Academic Careers Richard Dominic Wiggers Executive Director, Research and Programs Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS) 53rd Annual Conference Rethinking the PhD Calgary, Alberta Sunday, November 1, 2015 Informing the Future of Higher Education What is HEQCO? Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO) Created in 2005 as an agency of the Ontario government, HEQCO provides
evidence-based research to inform postsecondary policy and practice. 3 Informing the Future of Higher Education HEQCO has three current research priorities 4 Informing the Future of Higher Education What that means on a day-to-day basis Conducting evidence-based research Engaging leading research and policy organizations
Convening expertise on key issues in Ontario PSE Mobilizing knowledge with relevant audiences 5 Informing the Future of Higher Education HEQCO has examined graduate enrolment expansion Wiggers, R., Lennon, M.C. and Frank, K. (2011). @Issue Paper No. 7 Expanding Opportunities for Graduate Studies: The Recent Experience of Ontario. Maldonado, V., Wiggers, R. and Arnold, C. (2013). @Issue Paper No. 15 So You Want to Earn a PhD? The Attraction, Realities and Outcomes of Pursuing a Doctorate. Hall, F.L. and Arnold, H. (2013). Intentions for and Outcomes Following a Decade of Government Investment in Graduate Education.
6 Informing the Future of Higher Education Other HEQCO research focuses on the training of graduate students to teach Rolheiser, C. et. al. (2013). Developing Teaching Assistants as Members of the University Teaching Team. Dawson, D., Dimitrov, N., Meadows, K., and Olsen, K. (2013). Bridging the Gap: The Impact of the Teaching in the Canadian Classroom Program on the Teaching Effectiveness of International Teaching Assistants. Dimitrov, N., et al. (2013). Assessing Graduate Teaching Development Programs for Impact on Future Faculty. Potter, M.K., Kustra, E., Ackerson, T., & Prada, L. (forthcoming). The Effects of Long-Term Systematic Educational Development on the Beliefs and Attitudes of University Teachers 7 Informing the Future of Higher Education HEQCO also tries to listen
to the graduate students themselves Desjardins, L. (2012). Profile and Labour Market Outcomes of Doctoral Graduates from Ontario Universities. Zhao, H. (2012). Exploring the Canadian Graduate and Professional Student Survey (CGPSS): Results from 2007 and 2010 for Ontario Universities. Arnold, H. and Smith, C. (2015). Students Weigh In: National Analysis of Results from the 2013 Canadian Graduate and Professional Student Survey. Sekuler, A., Crow, B. and Annan, R., (2013). Beyond Labs and Libraries: Career Pathways for Graduate Students. Miller, L., Middaugh, C. and Broniewicz, T. (2014). Outcomes of Doctoral Program Graduates: Pilot Test of a Strategy to Measure Outcomes Using Exit and Alumni Surveys. 8 Informing the Future of Higher Education A summary of my own career as a PhD student/graduate
APPLY 7 year professional career Teaching experience First publication/thesis topic Top institution Scholarships Informing the Future of Higher Education STUDENT 16 articles/2 edited collections 9 research grants/awards 21 presentations/10 events Grad student VP and rep Contract/consulting work GRADUATION Doctoral Fellowship Teaching Offered two postdocs
Teaching contract Three faculty interviews Employer: 50 interviews per year Presentations to students 10 Informing the Future of Higher Education Some context Many around the world are questioning the doctorate 2010: the British news weekly The Economist published a provocative story with the following title: The disposable academic: Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time. 2011: the prestigious American scientific journal Nature published an entire issue with the cover title The future of the PhD, and an editorial calling for governments and universities around the world
to Fix the PhD. 2011: Canadas University Affairs published an article: Is Canada producing too many PhDs? Yes, no and maybe. 2013: The Atlantic, The PhD Bust: Americas Awful Market for Young Scientists and 2015, The Educational Bridge to Nowhere. 12 Informing the Future of Higher Education Yet increasing numbers of young people still want to pursue a doctorate Among Grade 12 students from the Maritime provinces surveyed in the spring of 2015 and planning to attend university, 18% were already planning to pursue a PhD, and a total of 65% some credential beyond the Bachelors. Among Ontario university students about to graduate with their first Bachelors degree in 2009, 13% planned to pursue doctoral studies, and a total of 64% some other credential beyond the Bachelors.
Informing the Future of Higher Education Source: Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission, Why Grade 12 Students Choose University (September 1, 2015);.Ontario University Students Alliance, What Students Want (2011). 13 In Ontario universities, more PhD candidates are younger 25000 22-24 25-29 150% 20000 30+
75% 15000 10000 0 50% 5000 2003 2004 2005 2006
2007 2008 2009 Source: Data from Statistics Canada, PSIS. Informing the Future of Higher Education 2010 2011 2012 14 Most PhD candidates and graduates still hope to become university faculty
About two-thirds (65%) of Ontario PhDs pursued their degree with the goal of becoming a university professor. In the humanities the proportion is even higher at 86% Among doctoral graduates from the class of 2005 surveyed two years later for the National Graduate Survey (NGS), more than 60% were still hoping to become a university professor. Among part-time Ontario university faculty surveyed in the spring of 2015, median age 45 and median experience 7 years, 83% would prefer to be full-time faculty. Informing the Future of Higher Education Source: V. Maldonado, R. Wiggers and C. Arnold, So, you want to earn a PhD? The attraction, realities, and outcomes of pursuing a doctorate (HEQCO: 2013); Desjardins, L. (2012). Profile and Labour Market Outcomes of Doctoral Graduates from Ontario Universities; Cortens, E., Skinkle, R., Atkinson, J., & Peters, J., Non-Full-Time Faculty in Ontarios Colleges and Universities (HEQCO: Forthcoming). 15 The number of young faculty being hired for
full-time faculty positions has declined Faculy Counts by Age Grouping in Ontario Universities 14,000 65 + 39 or Below 40 - 49 50-64 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000
4,000 2,000 0 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Source: CUDO data for Ontario Universities. Informing the Future of Higher Education
2011 2012 2013 16 The Conference Board suggested that fewer than 1 in 5 PhDs ended up as faculty 2.30% 2.60%1.40% 18.58% 39.4% Academic 11.39%
Full-Time University Professor Part-Time University Professor PSE Research and Teaching Assistant Full- or Part-Time College Instructor 6.09% Postdoctoral Scholars Management Occupations 11.29% Business, Finance, and Administration Natural and Applied Sciences 7.39% Health Education; Law; Social, Community or Government Services (not PSE)
2.90% 4.40% 16.88% Art, Culture, Recreation, Sport Sales and Service Trades, Transport, Equipment Operators; Manufacturing/Utilities 9.49% 5.29% Source: M.C. Lennon, H. Zhao, S. Wang and T. Gluszynski, Educational Pathways of Youth in Ontario: Factors Impacting Educational Pathways (HEQCO: 2011) Informing the Future of Higher Education 17 HEQCO is completing its own study
of the labour market outcomes for PhDs National Graduate Survey (NGS) Excludes graduates living outside of Canada or the US. Response rate < 50%. National Household Survey (NHS) Census Includes Canadians who earned a PhD from a non-Canadian university. Excludes those who earned a PhD in Canada and are now working outside of Canada. HEQCO Study 2,310 PhD graduates from Ontario universities (entire 2009 cohort). 85% tracked using convocation programs and Google searches. 18 Informing the Future of Higher Education The labour market outcomes for Ontarios 2009 PhD graduating cohort No Information; 14.88%
Tenure-Track Faculty; 29.27% 50% Academic Outside of PSE; 34.67% Affiliated; 3.09% College; 2.31% Primarily Research; 9.09% Primarily Teaching; 3.44% Other; 3.26% 19 Informing the Future of Higher Education Professional development The Conference Board paper identified
some challenges and solutions Faculty advisors/departments: Limited knowledge of careers outside academia PhD candidates: Limited exposure to and experience with non-academic opportunities Inadequate professional skills development Transformative initiatives (restructure programs) Immersive initiatives (voluntary/experiential) Supplementary initiatives (voluntary) Informing the Future of Higher Education Source: The Conference Board of Canada, Centre for Skills and Post-Secondary Education, Inside and Outside the Academy: Valuing and Preparing PhDs for Careers (draft, forthcoming). 21 Various transformative initiatives are currently being considered
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, White Paper on the Future of the PhD in the Humanities (December 2013). Report of the Modern Language Association (MLA) Task Force on Doctoral Study in Modern Language and Literature (2014). National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Next Generation Humanities PhD Grant Program (October 21, 2015). 22 Informing the Future of Higher Education Three years ago, HEQCO launched an immersive initiative May 2015 September 2015 November 2012
February 2016 RFP Meeting #1 Meeting #2 Meeting #3 Introduction and critique of research projects Discussion of research challenges and concerns
Discussion of analysis problems PowerPoint Critique of draft Powerpoint May 2016 Symposium Panel of policy-makers Presentation to public Multiple
Topics Research ethics Selection of 4 research projects and teams April 2016 Qualitative vs. quantitative research methods Panel of policy officials Panel of recent job seekers
Report writing Presentation skills 23 Informing the Future of Higher Education Literature Review Research Questions Research Methods Project Management Research Ethics Knowledge Mobilization Data analysis Policy Recommendations Non-academic careers X X
X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
X X X X X X FINAL REPORT SYMPOSIUM Presentation February November September
DRAFT REPORT Learning Outcome PROJECT HEQCO has tried to clearly identify and map the learning outcomes X X X X X X X X
24 Informing the Future of Higher Education The faculty member is central to the success of the Policy Research Projects The principal investigator will: Submit the proposal and sign the contract Select the student(s) undertaking the research and producing both the draft (December) and final (July) reports. Provide overall supervision of the research project and ensure that the student(s) are involved in all aspects of research design and writing. Liaise with the HEQCO contact and attend update meetings. 25 Informing the Future of Higher Education The University of Regina Guarantee is an example of a supplementary initiative
Students must earn a minimum 70% Program GPA by graduation and must complete their program of study within 5 years. Within each of the four years of study students must engage in a series of mandatory and elective opportunities. They must report and reflect upon the opportunities in a manner deemed satisfactory by a UR Guarantee Advisor. Upon graduation, students must keep a job log and apply for at least fifteen jobs per month. Students will be expected to search for employment in all markets where there is a demand for their skills. 26 Informing the Future of Higher Education Professional development for doctoral students and postdoctorates Efforts should be coordinated, but not centralized. Information should be available and participation encouraged, but not made compulsory. Online training can be useful, but the focus should be on personal interaction and networking.
Students should be involved in planning both to ensure its impact and for their own professional development. 27 Informing the Future of Higher Education Professional development for doctoral students and postdoctorates Efforts should be coordinated, but not centralized. Information should be available and participation encouraged, but not made compulsory. Online training can be useful, but the focus should be on personal interaction and networking. Students should be involved in planning both to ensure its impact and for their own professional development. 28 Informing the Future of Higher Education Lessons from HEQCO research
Many HEQCO funded research projects are similar to these types of PD initiatives New Research Projects 45 40 2 35 9 30 16 25 20
13 28 15 10 4 10 6 6 5 0 2007/08 2008/09
2009/10 2010/11 2011/12 2012/13 2013/14 2014/15 Contract Fiscal Year 30 Informing the Future of Higher Education to persuade the beneficiaries to participate
If you build it, they may not come. 31 Informing the Future of Higher Education to persuade the beneficiaries to participate Voluntary initiatives Making them compulsory bring the keen; may raise new challenges. 32 Informing the Future of Higher Education We need to have realistic expectations of professional development We cant expect
relatively small or shortterm interventions to have significant impacts 33 Informing the Future of Higher Education Employers identified work experience as the most important factor in hiring decisions 1. Relevant work experience 2. General work experience 3. Program of study 4. Credential or professional qualification 5. Evidence of academic skills and competencies 6. Co-op placements, internships, etc. Informing the Future of Higher Education
Source: Sattler, P. and Peters, J., Work-Integrated Learning and Postsecondary Graduates: The Perspective of Ontario Employers (HEQCO: 2012). 34 Most employers are not likely to view TAships as equivalent to work experience Work TA Selection Usually competitive with some selection process Typically no interview
Duration Typically 3-4 months full-time or equivalent (500 plus hours) Typically maximum 100-150 hours Training On-the-job under supervisor Limited for many Performance reviews Formal evaluations are rare/non-existent Evaluation
35 Informing the Future of Higher Education HEQCO undertook a case study of our internship applicants 36 Informing the Future of Higher Education More lessons HEQCO is also developing manuals for use in the broader community Co-sponsored by CACUSS, STLHE and CSSHE Informing the Future of Higher Education
38 More than 60% of HEQCO funded research projects have used a mixed methods design Surveys/Questionnaires 76% Interviews 44% Focus Groups 41% Student Records/Admin Data 37%
Informing the Future of Higher Education 39 There were a number of lessons learned in past HEQCO research Individuals responsible for actually running the intervention should not take an active role in research involving the latter. Focus groups and interviews should be carried out by someone other than the person(s) responsible for the intervention. Nearly half (47%) of the studies had difficulties recruiting an adequate number of participants for one or more aspects of their research. Incentives did not appear to influence study participation. None of the HEQCO-funded studies were successful in avoiding substantial participant attrition during studies that spanned a longer time interval.
40 Informing the Future of Higher Education There were a number of lessons learned in past HEQCO research To avoid self-selection bias, examine the demographics of the individuals who accessed the intervention and determine how representative it is of the intended population. These data could then be incorporated into the analysis. Gathering opinions on whether or not participants liked a specific intervention will provide no data about whether or not a particular intervention was actually useful or had an impact. Although we can learn a lot from single classes and institutions, we can learn more by collecting broader and even nationwide samples to increase the diversity of participants and viewpoints, and to increase external validity. 41 Informing the Future of Higher Education
Concluding observations Some of my own advice to doctoral candidates If possible, spend at least some time on other activities (student government, part-time work, volunteering). Nurture a network of contacts and friends outside of your academic circle. Great opportunities generally do not present themselves to you at the most convenient times. Your faculty advisor doesnt always have the best advice. When you feel frustrated with the academic world, find a private outlet to express those sentiments. Recognize that the world is not always fair, for anyone! Source: Life After Religious Studies: An Interview with Nicholas Dion, Bulletin for the Study of Religion (April 23, 2014). Informing the Future of Higher Education 43
you are an individual who earned a PhD 44 Informing the Future of Higher Education Some recent doctoral graduates reflect on the transition The non-academic job market speaks the language of skills, which can be confusing and disorienting for recent graduates. It demands a complete shift in thinking. What served me best were not the skills that I developed as a direct result of my doctoral study, but rather those skills that I had developed as a result of the other activities I pursued while in grade school, like sitting on administrative committees, coordinating and editing journals, and planning conferences. Networking and meeting people often plays a much bigger part in finding a non-academic position than does searching the Internet. Source: Life After Religious Studies: An Interview with Nicholas Dion, Bulletin for
the Study of Religion (April 23, 2014). Informing the Future of Higher Education 45 Some recent doctoral graduates reflect on the transition Take the time to actually think about what you want to do. Too often we graduate feeling like weve just wasted a decade of our lives and need to move quickly to whatever comes next. The person hiring you doesnt have to know about the nights you spent feeling like an academic failure. Your personal narrative should explain your transition in a positive way. You should keep telling yourself the narrative until you believe it. If you dont, no one else will. Finally, when you do find a job, pay it forward. Remember where you once were and help others out in any way you can. Informing the Future of Higher Education
Source: Jennifer Polk, Transition Q&A: Nicholas Dion, University Affairs (March 25, 2015); Elizabeth Keenan, Ph.D.s Do Have Transferable Skills, Part 3, chroniclevitae.com (October 9, 2015). 46 Thank you! Richard Dominic Wiggers Executive Director, Research and Programs HEQCO (416) 212-3881 [email protected] Informing the Future of Higher Education
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