Understanding Physical Education Doctoral Students’ Perspectives of Socialization

in Journal of Teaching in Physical Education
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  • 1 University of Alabama
  • | 2 University of Illinois
  • | 3 Illinois State University
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Despite an abundance of research on doctoral student socialization in higher education, little attention has been paid to physical education doctoral students. This study sought to understand physical education doctoral students’ perceptions of their socialization as preparation for faculty roles.


Participants included 32 physical education doctoral students (16 female, 16 male) from US institutions of higher education. Data were collected in three phases using focus group interviews, an open-ended survey, and individual interviews.


Three first-order themes described: (a) indirect, but common pathways to pursuing a doctoral degree, (b) relationships are essential to the doctoral program experience, and (c) becoming a faculty member is a complex and ongoing process.


Relationships, particularly with faculty members, are integral to doctoral education. Training for the role of doctoral advisor could be beneficial, as could connecting cohort members and promoting opportunities to learn the role of teacher educator and publish research.

Richards and Ivy are with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, McLoughlin is with the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL. Gaudreault is with the School of Kinesiology and Recreation at Illinois State University in Normal, IL.

Address author correspondence to K. Andrew Richards at karichards2@ua.edu.