Autonomy and Privilege in Doctoral Education: An Analysis of STEM Students’ Academic and Professional Trajectories

Jennifer M. Blaney, Annie M. Wofford, Soojeong Jeong, Jina Kang, David F. Feldon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Guided by theories of socialization and possible selves, this study examines how STEM doctoral students perceive their academic and professional trajectories. More specifically, we rely on four years of interview data from 66 doctoral students in the biological sciences to explore students’ perceived trajectories, focusing on the salient identities and experiences that shape the way students identify and describe their graduate experiences over time. Findings reveal wide variation in terms of how students described their trajectories, with some students describing linear trajectories and/or unchanging career interests, while others described their developmental trajectories as highly turbulent and non-linear. These perceived trajectories were largely shaped by student-advisor interactions, the value students placed on becoming “independent” scientists, and the privilege students brought with them to their graduate programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Higher Education
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • STEM doctoral training
  • career pathways
  • possible selves

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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