PhD Research

Thesis title and abstract:

Building Developmental Networks of Early Career Academics: An Informed Learning Perspective

A key factor in the successful development of universities is the quality of its support system, particularly for early career academics. For this group of academics, it is increasingly being recognised that the quality of their research and teaching outcomes, in establishing themselves as professional academics, is largely dependent on their ability to effectively build and make use of a ‘developmental network’ involving supportive, learning relationships with a range of people in both professional and personal contexts.

This study investigates the research question: how do early career academics use information to learn while building their developmental networks? A shift in focus from the individual experience to a ‘relational’ experience is reflected in recent literature from the fields of human resource development, education, information literacy and information behaviour. Themes of human relationship building, high quality connections and developmental networking in the context of the growing use of social, collaborative technologies blended with traditional communication methods, suggest an increasingly complex information practice particularly for the beginning university academic. The notion that information and learning are inextricably linked via the concept of ‘informed learning’ is 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.

This research employs a qualitative framework using a constructivist grounded theory approach. Through semi-structured interviews data are gathered to investigate the research question.  The study will use the methods of constant comparison to create codes and categories towards theme development. Further examination will consider the relationship between thematic categories to construct a theory.

The knowledge gained through this research will then be applied to produce the following outcomes:

•       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

•       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.

Principal Supervisor: Prof Helen Partridge (School of Information Systems, QUT)

Associate Supervisor: Prof Christine Bruce (School of Information Systems, QUT)

Associate Supervisor (External): Dr Brian Hemmings (Faculty of Education, CSU)

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