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My supervisor Valerie Irvine and I celebrating a successful candidacy

I initiated my candidacy examinations this month and on November 2nd received two writing prompts which I had to respond to, each via a 20 page paper. One of the prompts focuses on the literature while the other asks the student to review methods in their area of interest. As the two writing prompts arrived in my inbox, I was given two weeks to respond. After reviewing the work my supervisor and committee enraged me in an oral examination, or defense of my work.

The candidacy exams is meant to test whether a student has fully engaged with the literature in their area of interest, that they can prepare a quality piece of publishable work, and can defend that work through an oral examination. If successful the student has demonstrated preparedness and competence to do the research that will culminate in the PhD dissertation.

It is a daunting process to initiate, as you can easily convince yourself you are not quite ready, or want to spend more time collating the literature. It also feels like a big deal, as it is called an ‘exam’ and requires an ‘oral defense’. My supervisor suggested this was more of an opportunity than a test, as this is a chance for the committee to have a thorough review of your research interests, approach, and philosophy. In the end I truly felt that was the case, as my committee provided exceptionally formative feedback during the oral portion of the examination. The presentation I gave to my committee is shared below.

So with great elation, I am happy to confirm that I have passed my candidacy exams and am off to the races in pursuing my research! My research will look at innovation with educational technology through the lens of open educational practices. I situate open educational practices within Biggs’ (1996) model of constructive alignment and have proposed a new working definition for open educational practices:

Teaching and learning practices where openness is enacted within all aspects of instructional practice; including the design of learning outcomes, teaching resources, activities, and assessment. Open educational practices engage both faculty and students with the use and creation of OER, draw attention to the potential afforded by open licences, facilitate open peer-review, and support participatory student-directed projects.

I am hoping to be able to share my candidacy papers soon, but am exploring to see if I can get the literature review published first. What I will share next is some visualizations of the literature I created during the time between completing the papers and defending them. You will see some of those in the oral defense presentation shared above. I pitched this to my committee as a creative decompression exercise!

Reflections on PhD Candidacy Examinations

CC BY 4.0 Reflections on PhD Candidacy Examinations by Michael Paskevicius is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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