Higher Education Researchers Workgroup

The goal of this group is to bring together qualitative and quantitative higher education researchers working on issues at Berkeley, the University of California, the State of California or elsewhere for the mutual exchange of knowledge, ideas and issues through:
  • Acquainting one another with their respective research
  • Discussing our research strategies, data base use and data issues
  • Engaging with the questions raised by all of our work
  • Supporting each others’ work by providing feedback on substance and presentation
  • Creating an ongoing list of projects past and present for eventual posting on the CSHE website


  • Monthly meetings for an hour and a half
  • At every meeting a check in with new and existing members about their project(s)
  • When possible prior to each meeting an abstract, proposal, raw summary, finished or draft piece should be circulated among the group
  • At the meeting the author informally presents a summary of his or her research questions and issues and does not necessarily make a formal presentation—this is research in progress
  • Depending on the consensus of the group pertinent articles by non-members could be circulated and discussed for the issues germane to the participants
Too often higher education data driven researchers on and off campus work alone and they are unfamiliar with the breadth of research even on the Berkeley campus. There also is not necessarily communication among qualitative and quantitative researchers although many researchers use both types of data. Additionally there often is a disciplinary divide. This group is intended to overcome these to the enrichment of all participants. All are welcome including international visiting scholars who may be working on higher education issues in their own country. 

Meeting Details

Higher Education Researchers Workgroup 
First Friday of every month
CSHE Conference Room (766/768 Evans Hall) 
Graduate students and postdocs are particularly encouraged to attend.


This workgroup is organized and chaired by CSHE Senior Researcher Emerita, Anne MacLachlan
For more information regarding this workgroup please contact Anne at maclach@berkeley.edu.

Next Meeting

March 6, 2020, 12:00 - 1:30

Contact maclach@berkeley.edu for more information.

Changing Doctoral Education? By Marc Torka

Doctoral education is being reformed worldwide. This is mostly due to perceived high attrition and low completion rates, long completion times, increasing Ph.D. numbers, a diversified Ph.D. population, enhanced international competition between higher education institutions and a presumed paradigm shift from individual or departmental to more institutional responsibility. As a consequence, new organisational frameworks for doctoral training emerged which aim to accelerate, improve, harmonise and make the Ph.D. process more transparent and predictable.

The underlying assumption of these new organisational frameworks is that they will fundamentally transform the practice of doctoral training and research towards a more ‘directive’, ‘fast’, ‘managerial’ or ‘technical’ mode. To cope with the demand for more predictability, 'doable' projects and already 'capable' Ph.D. students may be privileged. Yet international quantitative and qualitative studies have also found that the impact of new organisational frameworks on doctoral training practices is limited.

Marc will address the question of change and continuity in PhD research and supervision in the context of his current research project “International comparison of doctoral training practices”. The project compares field-specific doctoral training practices in the social sciences and physics within contrasting higher education systems, namely the German chair, Australian lecturer and US graduate school system.