Instructional Science

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 367–385 | Cite as

An ecological model of developing researcher competence: the case of software technology in doctoral research



This paper presents an ecological model of developing researcher competence, with a particular focus on doctoral students’ use of research software. The model extends on theoretical work done by Young et al. (Instructional Science 30(1): 47–63, 2002), modelling the intentional dynamics of technological learning contexts. The development of the ecological model is linked to existing ways of understanding the doctoral experience. This includes the recent emphasis on pedagogy and learning, as well as different conceptualisations of context. The experiences of three doctoral student informants are used to exemplify aspects of the ecological model. A description of an e-learning resource, designed to support Education doctoral students’ use of research software, illustrates a concrete pedagogical contribution of the model. The paper concludes with a more general discussion of contributions of the model to the field of ecological psychology and the literature on doctoral education.


Developing researcher competence Ecological psychology Intentionality Software Affordances Research education 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Education, Ellen Wilkinson BuildingUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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