Beyond Blockages to Ownership, Agency and Articulation: Liminal Spaces and Conceptual Threshold Crossing in Doctoral Learning

Gina Wisker

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


Research into doctoral student learning has focused on stages of the learning journey (Wisker, Morris, Cheng, Masika, Warnes, Lilly, Trafford & Robinson, 2010), communities (Wisker, G., Robinson, G., Trafford, V., Warnes, M., & Creighton, E., 2003; Vekkaila, Pyhältö & Lonka, 2013; Wisker & Morris, 2010; Holbrook, Dally, Cantwell, Scevak, Bourke & Lovat, 2003) and doctoral ‘orphans' (Wisker & Robinson, 2012). Building on that earlier work, this research is concerned with how doctoral students identify and deal with two kinds of blockage in their research learning journey: problems with the supervisor, and a struggle with writing or articulation. Students report silencing, loss of confidence and paralysis in their work with each of these blockages, but offer evidence of strategies which can overcome the problems so that they move on in their research and writing. Identifying and tackling the issues with changed behaviours and ownership of their work are, I argue, often evidence of conceptual threshold crossings (Wisker & Kiley, 2009). Re-scrutiny of the data from three earlier projects and new data gathered for this project involving face-to-face and email interviews offers insights into the ways in which doctoral students identify blockages and meet and cross conceptual thresholds in their work. It indicates how they evidence and articulate their awareness of moving forward to the achievement of their doctoral learning journeys and identities as researchers and writers, through ownership, agency and articulation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThreshold Concepts in Practice
EditorsR. Land, J.H.F. Meyer, M.T. Flanagan
Place of PublicationRotterdam
PublisherSense Publishers
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789463005128
ISBN (Print)9789463005111
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2016

Publication series

NameEducational Futures: Rethinking Theory and Practice


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