On my reading list this week was this new book by Elliot, Bengtsen, Guccione & Kobayashi: The Hidden Curriculum in Doctoral Education. If you are interested in doctoral education or reseracher development you should definitely check this book out and then follow the associated blog. I’m only half way through and the book has already got me thinking, both about my own journey as a doctoral researcher (a long time ago now!) and my current work as a researcher developer.
I have now started to rethink the role I play as a developer, and workshop facilitator through this lens of formal and hidden curricula. The authors place university workshops and development sessions within the formal curriculum. However, in my experience these sessions also open doors to the hidden curriculum. They become a space where the two aspects of doctoral learning are intertwined. The conversations between participants which are inspired by the session topic or content become a further learning opportunity. And meeting at a workshop becomes an opportunity to start a conversation with other scholars which may well continue well beyond the workshop topic or space.
This merging of the formal and hidden curricula, is making me think more carefully about the purpose and the design of sessions I deliver as a developer. My aim has always been to foster a supportive community within these spaces, where participants feel confident and comfortable sharing experiences and challenges. Although there often is a formal curriculum to deliver, I feel the informal spaces in between are just as important. As much learning can happen in the coffee breaks, as during the formal session itself.
Thinking about my own journey as a doctoral student, the support network I built up was largely made up of fellow doctoral students whom I met through formal training sessions or informal student society events. Thank you to all of them for listening, and sharing their experiences over the years. If it hadn’t been for those initial coffee break chats, or Friday ‘happy hour’ events….
My challenge now is to find ways of facilitating those coffee break chats when there are no coffee breaks. When workshops are online, and people step away from the computer to get a coffee (or other beverage of choice) in their own kitchen alone. How do we facilitate those seredipitous conversations and unexpected learning opportunities with colleagues you may not have met before? Can I as a developer still play a role in facilitating students’ enagement with and discovery of this hidden curriculum?
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas or experiences! How are you engaging with the Hidden Curriculum, as a developer or as a doctoral student?