A journey of deceptions and leaps of faith: Personal reflections about undertaking a Doctor of Philosophy research project


In my reflections on undertaking my Doctor of Philosophy research project, I describe it as an emotional, intellectual and spiritual adventure. Marked by deceptions, it has demanded personal commitment, endurance and persistence to manoeuvre past these deceptions. However, with leaps of faith it has been one of the most valuable and enriching experiences, with opportunities for many life changing encounters and personal growth. I also acknowledge a lot of valuable support that has also been sourced from both informal and formal exchanges of ideas, experiences and interactions with a community of researchers involving supervisors, colleagues undertaking the same journey, early career researchers and past students met online.

I draw on motivational constructs consisting of achievement motivation by Ames and Archer (1988), Ames (1992), Elliot and Dweck (1988) and Meece, Blumenfeld and Hayle (1988), self-efficacy by Bandura (1994) and intrinsic motivation by Deci and Ryan (1985) for theoretical support. Motivational writers have also boosted my morale when parts of the journey became a challenge.


Dinah R Dovona-Ope
Faculty of Education, University of Southern Queensland, Australia


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Ames, C. (1992) Classrooms: Goals, structures, and student motivation. Educational Psychology, 84(6), 261-271.

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Anderman, E. M., Noar, S. M., Zimmerman, R. S., & Donohew, L. (2004) The need for sensation as a prerequisite for motivation to engage in academic tasks. In P. E. Pintrich & M. L. Maehr (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement: Motivating students, improving schools: The legacy of Carol Midgley (vol. 13) (pp. 1-26) Boston, MA: Elsevier.

Bandura, A. (1977) Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioural change. Psychological Review, 84, 191-215.

Bandura, A. (1986) Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Bandura, A. (1994) Self-efficacy. In R. V. Ramachaudran (Ed.), Encyclopaedia of human behaviour (vol. 4) (pp. 71-81) New York: Academic Press.

Cooper, H., & Tom, D. Y. H. (1984) Socioeconomic status and ethnic group differences in achievement motivation. In R. E. Ames & C. Ames (Eds.), Research on motivation. New York: Academic Press.

Crawford, L. (2003) PhD journey: Some shared experiences. Retrieved January 18, 2008, from http://www.ala.asn.au/conf/2003/crawford2.pdf

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985) Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behaviour. New York: Plenum.

Deemer, S. A. (2004) Using achievement goal theory to translate psychological principles into practice in the secondary classroom.

Elliot, J. S., & Dweck, C. S. (1988) Goals: An approach to motivation and achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(1), 5-12.

Fay, G. (2001) Uncovering sociocultural influences leads to a call for personalised learning. In D. M. McInerney & S. Van Etten (Eds.), Research on sociocultural influences on motivation and learning (vol. 1) (pp. 139-160) Information Age Publishing.

Gatrell, C. (n.d.) Mission impossible: Doing a part-time PhD (or getting 200% out of 20) Is it really worth it? Retrieved January 18, 2008, from http://www.missendencentre.co.uk/mission.pdf

Kahlefeldt, B. (2004) 90 minutes to success. Speciality Press.

Meece, J. L., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Hayle, R. H. (1988) Students' goal orientations and cognitive engagement in classroom activities. Educational Psychology, 80(4), 514- 523.

Meng, K. C. (2004) My PhD journey so far. Retrieved January 18, 2008, from http://www.nus.edu.sg/ngs/choonmeng_share.shtml

Patrick, H. (2004) Re-examining classroom mastery goal structure. In P. E. Pintrich & M. L. Maehr (Eds.), Advances in motivation and achievement: Motivating students, improving schools: The legacy of Carol Midgley (vol. 13) )pp. 233-263) Boston, MA: Elsevier.

Pavlina, S. (2005) Self-discipline: Persistence. Retrieved 23 July, 2007, from http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2005/06/self-discipline-persistence/

Schloss, D. P. (2001) If at first you don't succeed, buy this book: Power principles for achieving maximum success. Content Solutions.

Schwartz, D. J. (1987) The magic of thinking big. New York: Simon & Schuster.

Tracy, B. (2003) Goals: How to get everything you want: Faster than you ever thought possible. San Francisco: Berret-Koehler Publishers.

Vilkinas, T. (2005) Emotional encounters of the PhD kind. UniSA News.

Wolters, C. A. (2004) Advancing goal theory: Using goal structures and goal orientations to predict students' motivation, cognition and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96(2), 236-250.


doctoral project; self-efficacy; performance accomplishments


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