Shifting Gears: Characteristics and Consequences of Latent Class Transitions in Doctoral Socialization

Abstract

Using a national sample of 336 biology Ph.D. students, this study classified students based on their interactions with faculty and peers, and investigated longitudinal changes in their interaction classifications over 3 years. We also examined associations between students’ interaction classifications, their demographic backgrounds (e.g., gender, international student status, first-generation status, and underrepresented racial/ethnic minority status), and doctoral outcomes (e.g., sense of belonging, satisfaction with academic development, institutional commitment, and scholarly productivity). The findings revealed that three distinct subgroups existed among the current sample of biology Ph.D. students, with respect to their interactions with their faculty and peers: high interaction with faculty and peers, high interaction with peers only, and low interaction with faculty and peers. However, such patterns of doctoral students’ interactions with faculty and peers tended to, in general, be stable over time. In addition, while the differential effects of demographic variables on changes in these interaction patterns were widely founded, such changes were not substantially linked to doctoral student outcomes. Implications for research on doctoral education and socialization theory are discussed.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Minority serving institutions include historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) for this study.

  2. 2.

    The present study demographics are similar to the reported demographics in Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering. The one difference was race/ethnicity because race/ethnicity in the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering was only collected on U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

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Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the National Science Foundation. This material is based upon work supported under Awards 1431234 and 1760894. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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Jeong, S., Litson, K., Blaney, J. et al. Shifting Gears: Characteristics and Consequences of Latent Class Transitions in Doctoral Socialization. Res High Educ 61, 1027–1053 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-019-09583-7

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Keywords

  • Doctoral socialization
  • Faculty-student interaction
  • Peer interaction
  • Person-centered approach
  • Latent transition analysis