'Peer learning' as pedagogic discourse for research education

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Journal Article
Studies in Higher Education, 2005, 30 (5), pp. 501 - 516
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Research education has been dominated in recent years by policy-driven preoccupations with doctoral completions, funding and contributions to the economy. This has led universities to focus on enhanced institutional support for research degrees, with an emphasis on supervision, in particular the training of supervisors, and provision of a richer environment for students. This article uses examples from interviews with research students to show how the provision of a rich environment is not in itself sufficient. A new discourse is needed so that students are able to take up opportunities that are available. The article questions the current emphasis and argues that a new focus on pedagogy is explicitly needed. It challenges the dominant focus on supervision and 'provisionism' and suggests that a more appropriate pedagogic discourse should draw on the familiar notion of 'peer' from the world of research. It argues that peer learning, appropriately theorized and situated within a notion of communities of research practice, might be a productive frame through which to view research education. © 2005 Society for Research into Higher Education.
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