Showcase Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia 2015

The sense of efficiency and productivity among PhD students (#117)

KwongNui Sim 1 , Russell Butson 1
  1. University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand

Abstract Content (up to 300 words recommended)

Given their academically advanced stage, it can be assumed that there is an innate drive in PhD students to aspire to constantly improve their efficiency and productivity in academic work. Their determination for constant self-improvement is a factor that ought to directly affect both the outcome of their dissertation and their development as emerging academic researchers. Nevertheless, we wonder how computer technology, a necessity in today’s higher education, plays a role within this academic context. This paper aims to contribute new knowledge to this emerging area by exploring the relationship between PhD students and technology in the process of engaging in doctoral research. The predominant message in ICT-related studies in higher education is that the adoption of ICT technology improves student efficiency and productivity. We believe this claim to be questionable. First, although there is a belief/assumption that digital devices and/or their applications improve efficiency and productivity in academic work, the data on how these devices and/or applications are being used is scarce. Using practice-based data, we also found issues that hinder the role of technology in relation to efficiency and productivity in academic work. Data from our study revealed that the diverse perspectives on efficiency and productivity in PhD students’ academic work appear to be barriers to the role of technology in promoting that efficiency and productivity. But, from the higher education point of view, these academic-related digital devices and/or applications were created by academics for academics, with the purpose of making research-related tasks more productive and efficient. So, what is missing? We believe that, until the day comes when we have a shared sense of efficiency and productivity in academic work, the role and benefits of technology in higher education may be only a pipe dream.

Addressing the theme/s of the Conference (up to 200 words recommended)

 This submission relates closely to the conference theme “Learning for life and work in a complex world,” especially when technology plays a significant role in PhD students’ day-to-day research practice. Because the use of technology is likely to be a learning process for life and work in today’s complex world, this paper explores the complicated relationship between PhD students and their use of technology in their doctoral research. Such an understanding is important for educational transformation to take place. This transformation will enable the institutions to produce graduates who are going to be responsive and adaptable professionals. Further, it will encourage PhD students to actively exploit emerging technologies for their better employability. This paper investigates the aspects of assessing, evidencing and evaluating graduate capabilities by examining a cohort of PhD students’ perspectives on technology use, and their practices in using computer technologies to carry out their doctoral research. It is important to stress that this paper navigates the uncertainty and complexity of the relationship between PhD students and the role of computer technologies in the process of doing doctoral research.

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