Zarrina Talan Azizova and Pamela P. Felder
Understanding racial/ethnic meaning making
Narrative analysis of STE[A]M doctoral student experiences
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the racial and ethnic aspects of the doctoral socialization to provide a meaningful insight into the belief systems and decision-making processes related to academic success and degree completion. This paper addresses a gap in literature focusing on the racial and ethnic aspects of the doctoral student experience as they relate to student agency.
Design/methodology/approach – This narrative research of four doctoral students uses a postmodern active interview method to foreground the role of a doctoral agency as manifested in the ways students make meaning of their experiences as members of the science, technology, engineering, agriculture and math academic community. A dialectical approach to the traditional socialization models provides the framework for understanding the meaning-making processes within a critical context of academia.
Findings – Findings present the intrinsic foundations for a doctoral agency and forces that shape key decision-making processes for doctoral students.
Research limitations/implications – Implications for research and practice provide guidance for faculty, graduate school administrators and organizations interested in supporting degree completion for historically marginalized doctoral students.
Originality/value – This study examines doctoral socialization as a meaning-making process of racial/ ethnic students in engineering and agricultural programs. Narrative research design provides depth into the individual experiences and the role of racial/ethnic histories in students’ socialization (meaning-making) processes in a predominantly White academic environment.
Keywords Diversity, Doctoral socialization, Doctoral student agency, STEM doctoral experience, Narrative research
Paper type Research paper
Zarrina Talan Azizova is an assistant professor in Higher Education, College of Education and Human Development of the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies with the concentration in higher education administration and cognate in sociology in 2014 and Masters of Science in Higher Education with the emphasis on international postsecondary education in 2007 from Oklahoma State University. Her Bachelors degree is in Roman-German Philology from Uzbekistan State World Languages University. Her research centers on impact of postsecondary education on students; role of organizational cultures and structures in diversity and equity in higher education; K-20 education pipeline; graduate/professional student socialization and experiences; and student agency. She has been an active member at the national conferences such as Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), ASHE Council of Ethnic Participation, and American Education Research Association.
Prior to joining the University of North Dakota, Azizova maintained an academic appointment as a visiting assistant professor in Higher Education and Student Affairs program at Oklahoma State University (OSU). Before her years at OSU, she had held various academic administration positions in two different higher education systems: the UK and post-Soviet with a transitioning economy. While being involved in the formative stage of Westminster International University in Tashkent (WIUT) – a joint venture between the UK and Uzbekistan - her professional experience included ex-officio membership in the executive body and academic council of WIUT and her responsibilities ranged from deliberating and implementing academic policies, facilitating organizational development and growth, supervising development and enhancement of academic assessment system, safeguarding academic quality assurance principles, maintaining partnerships with the University of Westminster’s (London) liaisons and external examiners, and supervising student admission/enrollment processes and other areas of student administration. Her professional development in academic and student administration areas took place on Harrow campus, Marylebone Campus, and Regent Campus of the University of Westminster, London, in 2002 and 2003.
Dr. Pamela Felder’s research focuses on the racial and cultural experiences associated with doctoral degree attainment. She is committed to enhancing models of doctoral student socialization. She believes that an understanding of the doctorate has tremendous implications for learning and/or addressing many areas of higher education that have been viewed historically as problematic. The foremost concern in her research is the discussion of inequity in access in postsecondary education. Thus, her work not only examines the statistical trends of doctoral degree attainment, it also explores predoctoral and postdoctoral degree experiences to shed light on the socialization aspects of students who enter doctoral study and the disciplinary identities of doctoral degree holders as they begin to engage in their professions.Currently, Felder is an Associate Professor in the Department of Education at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), a historically Black institution in the University of Maryland System, where she also works on special projects for the Dean of the School of Arts and Professions. From 2014-2016 she served as an Associate Professor in Organizational Leadership (ORLD) Ph.D. program where she chaired and served on dissertation committees, as well as, program, departmental, school, and university committees. Additionally, she worked to enhance and develop programmatic initiatives; this includes launching the very first ORLD faculty/student writing collaborative designed to support the writing productivity of doctoral students. She is also Founder of Black Doctorates Matter, a research-based and evidence-based social media community-building initiative developed to provide psycho-social support for historically marginalized students interested in pursuing doctoral studies.