Developing teaching capability – the missing link for global employability of post-doctoral students?

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Research and Development in Higher Education Vol. 38: Learning for Life and Work in a Complex World

July, 2015, 528 pages
Published by
T. Thomas, E. Levin, P. Dawson, K. Fraser & R. Hadgraft

Traditionally doctoral students are expected to work as sessional academics, however, they are not necessarily well-prepared for, nor confident about, the full range of academic roles expected of them upon employment. Since 2007, Flinders University has run a year-long Academic Internship Program for Doctoral Students (AIPDS) to provide academic training and support to 24 doctoral students employed as sessional teaching staff. This paper outlines the AIPDS Responsive Evidence-based Adaptable Assessed and Layered (REAAL) Framework and draws on the program’s evaluation to demonstrate how participation in the program supports both the preparedness of its participants to be responsive and adaptive professionals and helps build academic confidence and skills so individuals are better equipped to navigate uncertainty and complexity.

Within the program quality learning and teaching is fostered through interactive workshops and program activities which also support the interns as they learn about scholarly, theoretical and practical approaches to teaching. Interns face a number of challenges during the program and in their teaching that align with those in the sector.The REAAL framework allows the program to be responsive and adaptable enough to meet those challenges effectively.

We have used a thematic analysis approach to explore survey and interview data from program participants and teaching staff. This qualitative research approach has informed the development of the REAAL framework. The REAAL framework is flexible and is not institutionally bound. It therefore provides a model for the development of other programs which prepare doctoral students for future academic roles which involve teaching.

Keywords: Academic Internship; developing teaching capability; higher education