Critical autobiography in the professional doctorate: improving students’ writing through the device of literature

Eastman, Christine ORCID: and Maguire, Kate ORCID: (2016) Critical autobiography in the professional doctorate: improving students’ writing through the device of literature. Studies in Continuing Education, 38 (3) . pp. 355-372. ISSN 1470-126X (doi:10.1080/0158037X.2016.1180510)

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This paper argues for a pedagogic practice to overcome the challenges that many professional practitioners face in undertaking a professional doctorate. Recent examination feedback on a professional doctoral programme of 300 candidates in the UK highlighted that a number of candidates often struggle to write persuasively, critically, and reflectively. This paper discusses the impact of a series of workshops designed to support students in resolving the challenges of writing clearly. In our workshops we encouraged the students to conceptualise their professional doctorate as a critical autobiography. In order to foster a critical autobiographical voice in our students, we explored a range of autobiographical texts for students to use as models for their own writing. In addition to offering a description of our teaching practice in these workshops, this paper explores the theoretical background that illuminates our pedagogical choices. Both theory and practice are posited side by side in our paper to uncover mutually illuminating connections in our discussion and evaluation of our attempts to improve students’ writing. We suggest that conceptualising the professional doctorate as critical autobiography is a valuable tool for professional practitioners who struggle to communicate the complexities of their practice confidently and lucidly.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > Work and Learning Research Centre
Item ID: 19761
Notes on copyright: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Studies in Continuing Education on 04/05/2016, available online:
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Depositing User: Christine Eastman
Date Deposited: 04 May 2016 17:36
Last Modified: 31 May 2020 11:53

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