Research Context: Changes in higher education, early career academics and information and knowledge environmentsResearch Problem: Individual vs relational shift, academic developmental networks, research mentoring and informed learning conceptResearch Questions and Outcomes: How do early career academics use information to learn while building their developmental networks?Literature Review: Early career academics, academic developmental networking, human relationships and social interaction in networking, informed learning and information behaviour/information literacyMethodology: Constructivist Grounded TheoryResearch Design: Participant selection, data collection and data analysis and reflectionPilot Study: Emerging themes
A shift in focus from the individual experience to a ‘relational’ experience…reflected in recent literature from the fields of human resource development, education, information literacy and information behaviour. An increasingly complex information practice particularly for the beginning university academic… suggested by themes of human relationship building, high quality connections and developmental networking in the context of the growing use of collaborative technologies blended with traditional communication methods.
The role of the literature review in constructivist grounded theory research is to assist in the development of ‘theoretical sensitivity’ of the researcher, through gaining a broad understanding of the context of the topic (Charmaz, 2006).
Identifying these key focus areas for ECAs will be helpful during data analysis, where learning activitieswhile developmental networking can be explored and linked to the literature.
Integrates the literature from academic social networking (Sutherland & Petersen, 2010; Kenway et al, 2005), human relationship building or “relational agency” (Edwards, 2006; Hopwood, 2010), social interaction (interpersonal/communication skills, high quality connections (Heaphy & Dutton, 2006), trust and empathy (Miller & Wallis, 2011) and positive psychology (Seligman, 2002) and developmental networks and relationships in both academic (Baker Sweitzer, 2009) and professional contexts (Higgins & Kram, 2001; Chandler & Kram, 2005)
Developmental networks…Emerging contemporary mentoring theory and practice that reflects the changing nature of careers. A form of social network that focuses on one’s formal and informal relationships for personal learning, career and professional growth, satisfaction and success (Higgins & Kram, 2001). Studied across a range of professional contexts, including higher education (Baker Sweitzer, 2009)Developmental networks for early career academics… Little research on mentoring from a developmental networking perspective in higher education contexts (Baker Sweitzer, 2009). Research into the mentoring experience in higher education could benefit from broader perspectives that view mentoring as a practice of networking, rather than a single relationship between two people. Research supervisory pedagogy… study by Bruce & Stoodley (2009) provides insight into research supervisory experiences and the design of teaching and learning for research students. Research supervisors as mentors and learning relationships between research mentor and students. Supervisory relationships and informed learning concept… A holistic view of support for the early career academic experience, from an informed learning perspective is needed. Further study needs to be conducted to gain an empirical understanding of how early career academics are using information to learn within this key information practice: to build, maintain and utilise their developmental networks.
From these early findings, it could be suggested that early career academicsprimarily make use of informal information to learn as they build theirdevelopmental networks, by engaging in mutually supportive relationships of amultilayered nature.
Exploring the connections (actions and processes) between information types and modalities, using informal information to learn, reciprocal relationships between ECAs and their key sources of development (or developers) and their various relationship ‘layers’ encountered while building their developmental networks will be the primary focus of coding, categorising and theory development during the next stages of the research project. The next stages of the project include a second round of data collection (research interviews). Data will be collected from approximately six early career academics located at a range of Australian universities.Interview data will be analysed using the process outlined in the methodology chapter, and findings will be compared to results of the first round of eight interviews, towards theory development. During data analysis, the literature review and memos/reflection on key constructs such as informed learning and the relationship between information behaviour and information literacy for early career academics, will be developed further.Manuscripts developed from this research will be submitted for publication in academic journals and conferences for both LIS and higher education audiences.
Building Developmental Networks of Early Career Academics: An Informed Learning Perspective<br />Supervisors:<br />Professor Helen Partridge<br />Professor Christine Bruce<br />Doctor Brian Hemmings<br />Student: <br />Faye Miller<br />email@example.com<br />PhD Articulation <br />Confirmation of Candidature<br />
Research Context<br />Changes in higher education... <br /> Australian and international contexts<br />Early career academics and the future academic workforce… <br /> complexity of roles, including research-teaching nexus<br />Complex information and knowledge environment… blending traditional and innovative ways of communicating, interacting and learning within academic cultures<br />
Research Problem<br /> <br />A shift in focus from the individual experience to a ‘relational’ experience…<br />An increasingly complex information practice particularly for the beginning university academic…<br />‘Informed learning’ concept… used as a conceptual framework to gain a clearer picture of how early career academics are using information to learn within this complex information practice: to build, maintain and utilise their networks for professional growth and development.<br />
Research Question and Outcomes<br />The knowledge gained through this research will then be applied to produce the following outcomes:<br /> <br />A theoretical model of early career academics’ use of information to learn how to create and utilise their developmental networks for the purposes of enhancing their research and teaching; and<br /> <br />An empirical basis to inform academic development strategies and information development strategies to enhance mentoring, career development and networking training at universities for early career academics.<br />How do early career academics use information to learn while building their developmental networks?<br />
Literature Review<br />This interdisciplinary study draws together theory from a number of fields including higher education, information behaviour, information literacy, human resource development, communication and social psychology. <br />The purposes of this preliminary literature review are:<br />to gain an initial general overview of the topic;<br />to identify any gaps in the research area;<br />to identify and define the research problem and research question; <br />to assist in designing the data collection instrument (interview guide); and<br />to link and integrate early themes emerging from the pilot study with the relevant literature.<br />
Literature Review: Overview<br />The first section examines literature on early career academics in higher education, their support systems and key focus areas relevant to ECAs for this study. <br />The second part explores the literature on networking in academia in general, followed by developmental networking and mentoring or learning relationships for ECAs. <br />The third section explores the informed learning concept and its relevance to developmental networking as an information practice, followed by affective dimensions of information, incorporating literature from both information literacy and information behaviour fields. <br />
Literature Review: Early Career Academics<br />Research support for publication and grants development (Hemmings et al, 2009; Greene, 2008; Sutherland & Petersen, 2010);<br />Mentoring (Nakamura et al, 2009; Foote, 2010; Greene et al, 2008);<br />Building and using support networks for research and teaching (Sutherland & Petersen, 2010; Foote, 2010);<br />Balancing duties in research, teaching and service (Greene et al, 2008);<br />Balancing work and personal life (Sutherland & Petersen, 2010; Foote, 2010);<br />Formal and informal sources of support (Greene et al, 2008);<br />Fostering a supportive culture of open communication, collaboration and collegiality (Foote, 2010);<br />Professional development programs for ECAs and those who support ECAs i.e. senior academics or research/teaching support staff (Foote, 2010);<br />ECAs’ development of self-efficacy for a range of academic tasks (Hemmings et al, 2009; Major & Dolly, 2003; Sutherland & Petersen, 2010); and<br />Use of prior experiences in graduate school and industry (Sutherland & Petersen, 2010).<br />
Literature Review: Networking in Academia<br />Major shift in focus from individual experience to relational or collaborative experience… reflected in recent literature from fields of higher education, human resource development and information behavior and information literacy. <br />Emerging relational focus… suggests a need for research into understanding affective (or emotional) factors to complement dominant cognitive-based research<br />Emerging focus on building social networks and human relationships via collaborative technologies and traditional communication methods… suggests an increasingly complex use of information and knowledge by university academics, particularly beginning academics<br />Implicit in these relationships in the role and use of information and knowledge<br />
Literature Review: Developmental Networking for Early Career Academics<br />Developmental networks…Emerging contemporary mentoring theory and practice that reflects the changing nature of careers. A form of social network that focuses on one’s formal and informal relationships for personal learning, career and professional growth, satisfaction and success (Higgins & Kram, 2001). <br />Developmental networks for early career academics… Little research on mentoring from a developmental networking perspective in higher education contexts (Baker Sweitzer, 2009). <br />Research supervisory pedagogy… study by Bruce & Stoodley (2009) provides insight into research supervisory experiences and the design of teaching and learning for research students. <br />Supervisory relationships and informed learning concept… A holistic view of support for the early career academic experience, from an informed learning perspective is needed. <br />
Literature Review: Informed Learning<br />The role or influence of information, knowledge or information literacy in the area of developmental networking for early career academics has not yet been studied. This study aims to fill this gap.<br />Informed learning (Bruce, 2008) is overarching conceptual framework for this study. Chosen because of the simultaneous focus on information and learning, as developmental networking is primarily a learning experience and to effectively communicate the study to a cross-disciplinary audience<br />Informed learning is an embryonic concept – this study aims to advance understanding and application of this concept<br />Information practice – ‘academic, professional and civic activities that require interaction with information environment, sometimes within a technological context and sometimes not…’ (Bruce, 2008, p. 9)<br />Informed learning for research students, research communities, community interaction and professional practice appear relevant for early career academics<br />Informed learning is supported by literature in workplace information literacy and affective aspects of information behaviour<br />
Methodology<br />Qualitative Research.. Using the qualitative method of grounded theory allows for investigation of complex ways ECAs use information to learn while networking<br />Constructivist Grounded Theory… move away from positivist origins to interpretivist (Charmaz, 2006). <br /> Co-construction of meaning or shared understanding between researcher and participants. Results in reflective prose detailing the process and experiences, supported by quotes from interviews.<br />Theoretical Sensitivity… constructivist GT acknowledges the role of the literature review as part of the construction of knowledge. Role of the researcher’s background knowledge adding value to the study.<br />Evaluating Constructivist Grounded Theory… the relationships between researcher and participants will be thoroughly documented as memos for evidence. Ongoing exploration of issue of quality.<br />
Participants: Selection and Sampling<br />Participants selected using purposive sampling technique. Specific criteria used to target suitable participants:<br /> 1) Early career academic, within first five years of a full time appointment to a university, who engages in both teaching and research;<br /> 2) Significant industry/professional experience before joining academia; and<br /> 3) Experience with networking for professional and personal development towards learning how to be an academic.<br />Participants will be:<br />Early career academics across a range of disciplines, professional backgrounds, and from a range of Australian universities<br />Identified through searching university internal communications directory and staff web pages<br />Recruited by contacting directly via email and scheduling interview times<br />Sample size – approx fourteen participants. Minimum of ten participants in GT studies.<br />
Research Design: Data Collection<br />Constructivist grounded theory emphasises actions of participants, the processes involved in use of information to learn in this context (Charmaz, 2006)<br />Semi-structured research interviews are suitable for investigating the research problem as they allow participants to explain the process and experience of how they use information to learn while building their developmental networks.<br />Interviews allow co-construction of theory through conversation between researcher and participants.<br />
Research Design: Data Analysis <br />Grounded theory data analysis involves an iterative process of coding and categorising, memo writing, category saturation and theory development.<br />Data collection and data analysis occur concurrently.<br />Combination of NVivo software and manual data analysis.<br />
Pilot Study<br />Purpose of the Pilot Study... To identify preliminary concepts and themes and to evaluate the data collection and data analysis procedures for next phase. <br />The Participants… 8 ECAs from one campus of a university within first 5 years of a full time appointment, from a range of disciplines (Science, Arts and Education), with practitioner backgrounds and experience with networking for professional and personal development.<br />Reflection on Pilot Study… data collected is rich and detailed, suitable for working towards grounded theory. Quotes from participants will be used to support discussion of findings. Reflection on interview techniques and developing rapport<br />Preliminary data analysis… Open coding of interview transcripts using key guiding questions. Early categories developed from initial manual line-by-line codes. Literature review revised to reflect early findings and revised throughout the study towards theory development.<br />
Pilot Study: Interview Questions<br />Research Interviews…<br />Semi-structured, face to<br />face, open ended<br />questions to encourage<br />conversation. <br />Use of prompt questions,<br />depending on individual<br />responses.<br />Background information<br />gathered on roles and<br />duties as an ECA, prior<br />work experience. <br />
Pilot Study: Key Questions During Data Analysis<br />What is a developmental network for an early career academic? Key sources of development (or developers):<br />Colleagues/peers<br /><ul><li>Within same school
IT Services</li></ul>Friends<br />-Within academia<br />- Outside of academia<br />
Pilot Study: Key Questions During Data Analysis<br />What information is used to learn while building developmental networks?<br />Use of informal information to learn – informal sphere is most important for learning<br />Information modalities and types used while learning<br />
Pilot Study: Key Questions During Data Analysis<br />How is information used to learn while building developmental networks?<br />Reciprocity is critical to successful building of developmental relationships and networks<br />Mutually supportive relationships provide benefits in forms of information, learning and support to the ECA and their mentors/developers<br />
Pilot Study: Emerging Themes<br />Based on early findings from the pilot study, using<br />information to learn in this context is closely related to the<br />following emerging themes: <br /> <br />The primary conceptualisation of the multilayered nature of mutually supportive relationships between people in a developmental network (between ECAs and their mentors or developers); and<br />The primary importance of using informal information to learn in this context.<br />
Pilot Study: Emerging Themes<br />Relationship layer<br />Type<br />Communication modes Face-to-face, in person only<br /> Face-to-face, online (video) only<br /> Virtual only (non-face to face)<br /> Blend of face-to-face, in person and virtual, long distance<br /> <br />Cross-boundaries Cross-disciplinary<br /> Cross-profession<br /> Cross-cultural<br /> Cross-institution<br />Work roles Research only<br /> Teaching and Learning only<br /> Administrative only<br /> Overlap of Research/Teaching/<br /> Administration<br /> Academic-practitioner<br /> <br />Personal sphere Intellectual<br /> Emotional<br /> Physical<br /> Spiritual<br /> Creative<br /> <br />Temporality Stages / History / Journey (of a developmental relationship)<br />
Contributions<br />Both theoretical and practical implications could benefit the following groups and inform their policies and practice:<br />Early career academics;<br />Academic developers;<br />University library and information services;<br />Research development and research support staff;<br />Research supervisors and mentors to early career academics:<br />Career counsellors specialising in academic careers; and<br />University management.<br />
Contributions<br />The research aims to advance knowledge in the following areas:<br /> <br />LIS theory: the embryonic concept of ‘informed learning’ and theories in information literacy and information behaviour in the context of university academic development.<br /> <br />LIS practice: designing library and information sources and services for ECAs.<br /> <br />HE theory: early career academic development from holistic, networked and information/knowledge perspectives.<br /> <br />HE practice: designing professional development programs, enhancing supervisory and mentoring relationships in teaching and research for ECAs.<br /> <br />HRD/career development theory: the under-researched area of developmental networking for professionals, particularly in the university academic context.<br /> <br />HRD/career development practice: designing career development initiatives and support services for ECAs.<br />
Future Research Directions<br />Exploring the connections (actions and processes) between emerging themes<br />Second round of data collection (research interviews) using revised interview question<br />Second round of data analysis. Findings will be compared to results of the first round of interviews, towards theory development<br />Develop further literature review and memos/reflection on key constructs such as informed learning and the relationship between information behaviour and information literacy for early career academics<br />Manuscripts will be submitted for publication in academic journals and conferences for both LIS and higher education audiences.<br />