Changing the Postgraduate Landscape: Student use of digital professional development tools

Abstract for Conference Slides

Postgraduate educators bemoan the fact that most of the tools they are offered were designed and are most frequently implemented at the undergraduate level.

While this makes sense in terms of the relative size of undergraduate vs. postgraduate populations, it cannot be ignored that these students have very different needs than their undergraduate counterparts and that tools designed to impact retention and completion must be uniquely designed to fit their needs. Postgraduates have the self-discipline to succeed but may have not had the prior experience needed to compete adequately on issues such as achieving publication with academic writing, criticality, argumentation etc., nor in managing the increased stress levels inherent in personal research and thesis work. 

Professional development for postgraduate students must include the rigors of work-life balance, managing anxiety, preparing for both academic and nonacademic jobs. This study tests if the correct model would be a digital safety net: a digital suite of academic tools, blended with experiences designed to enhance wellness as well as both academic and non-academic outcomes. This study examines the adoption and outcome data from one such set of tools, produced by DoctoralNet Ltd. Making use of both qualitative and quantitative evidence it seeks to examine the benefits to students across multiple universities, currently touching the educational experience of over 40K Masters and Doctoral students.

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