Examining Doctoral Student Development of a Researcher Identity: Using the Draw a Researcher Test
With a core identity as working professionals, education doctoral students struggle with seeing themselves as researchers. Because research is essential in a doctoral program, the sooner doctoral students include researcher as an identity, the smoother and more successful their journey will be. To support doctoral student researcher identity development, we focused on scaffolding and embedding academic writing experiences in the first year seminar in a U.S. doctoral program. The purpose of this study was to describe and explain doctoral students’ development of a researcher identity as measured by the Draw-a-Researcher Test (DART). In the fall and spring, we collected drawings and narrative reflections about their drawings of researchers from nine students. We created a five-dimension DART scoring guide. In the fall, the drawings revealed students’ uncertainty about the agency and the research process dimensions; in the spring, however, the drawings showed students’ clearer understanding of these two dimensions. In the narrative reflections, students noted the influence of writing expectations and experiences on their role identity as researchers. Implications, as measured by the DART, are that an embedded writing support model seems to assure the development of doctoral students’ core identity as researchers during the first year of the program.
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