Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)


Looking, Seeing, Knowing: Documenting the Doctoral Experience through Photomethods


Kenyae L. Reese


Janie Clark Lindle, PhD

Document Type



Educational Leadership (P-12)

Publication Date

Spring 2013


Matriculating in and through a doctoral program is complex and nuanced and often requires a change in occupational roles and professional priorities (Hall & Burns, 2005). Students may also experience shifts in identity as they navigate through and between their professional and academic identities during the doctoral experience (Dobrow & Higgins, 2005). Given that the success of doctoral students is largely contingent on relational and systemic factors, students must be resourceful and able to navigate the political and social dynamics within their respective departments and universities, as well as with their peers (Sweitzer, 2009). Nevertheless, recent literature suggests that more needs to be done to understand the experiences of and challenges faced by graduate students (Austin, 2009; Golde, 2008). This research study uses photomethods, such as photography, to document the student journey to systematically matriculating through an educational leadership doctoral program at a large research university. Findings confirm the value of using photomethods to examine the doctoral student experience. Moreover, participants indicated that the opportunity to reflect on their experience using photographs increased their capacity to be reflective agents and sharpened their focus on the cognitive demands and support systems required to grow from apprentice researcher to doctoral candidate.

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