Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Exploring the impact of program structure on student and faculty scholarly communities in interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs
by Horowitz, Lenore G., Ph.D., State University of New York at Albany, 2013, 258; 3561717
Abstract (Summary)

The Information Science doctoral program at the University at Albany, State University of New York, faces many of the same challenges found in highly interdisciplinary programs across educational institutions worldwide such as complex curricula development, abundant discipline languages and cultures, and stakeholders clinging to the traditional, single-discipline university system. In 2006, the University at Albany Information Science Ph.D. program faculty redefined the program's structure in hopes of addressing the challenges it was facing. Program structure is a social process shaped by community participation and is influenced by many factors including students, faculty members, and both informal and formal knowledge production.

Drawing on data collected with both students and faculty present before, during and after the transition to the new program structure, a mixed-method research strategy was performed to examine student retention rates and time to degree, and to explore the experiences of program faculty members' and doctoral students' sense of community and connectedness. Drawing on Wenger's (1998) Community of Practice model and Tinto's model of Institutional Departure, this study occurs in three stages: [1] program and participants' content analysis, [2] surveying of student and faculty members, and [3] select interviews with student and faculty members.

The data presented here highlights the unique challenges of doctoral interdisciplinary programs and supports the need for collaboration among faculty, and calls for the unquestionable patronage of the institution and the diverse departments involved. Seeing that interdisciplinary programs work across different disciplines, students and faculty alike often find it difficult to assimilate the diverse ways of teaching and methods of research thus calling for unique organizational and pedagogical strategies addressed in the curricula. Successful interdisciplinary programs need faculty who are broad-minded and willing to embrace and learn new methodologies, and respect sometimes conflicting viewpoints. Departments need to develop new models of organizational structure and funding sources to facilitate interdisciplinary research and interdisciplinary community. University leadership needs to move away from rigid hierarchical structures, add more flexibility to allow faculty members to have some movement between disciplinary departments, and needs to provide physical spaces to pull the diverse faculty and student communities together.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Andersen, Deborah L.
Commitee: Andersen, David F., Goodall, Jennifer J.
School: State University of New York at Albany
Department: Informatics-Information Science
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 74/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Information science, Curriculum development, Higher education
Keywords: Academic community, Connectedness, Curriculum, Doctoral programs, Information science education, Interdisciplinary programs
Publication Number: 3561717
ISBN: 9781303089589
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