Enhancing professional self-esteem: learners’ journeys on a distance-learning Doctorate in Education (EdD)


  • John Butcher University of Northampton
  • Sandy Sieminski The Open University




professional doctorates, distance-learning doctorates, professional self-esteem


This article explores the motivations, experiences and perceived outcomes for Doctorate in Education (EdD) students in their journey through a relatively new form of doctoral education at a distance. The research draws on a range of individual EdD participant voices, both student and graduate, and is timely in focusing on an example of an under-researched but increasingly common phenomenon of part-time distance learning professional doctorates. The aims of the research were: to understand what motivated students to register for an EdD; to explore the factors which successfully sustained them on their journey; to identify common outcomes on completion. The researchers developed a case study of the student EdD journey in its distinctive professional context(s). Data was collected in a number of linked stages including postal surveys, semi-structured interviews, and students’ reflective evaluations at different points. Key themes related to professional postgraduate learner transitions emerge from the data, which contrast with previous work on the traditional PhD and relate to: the deliberate choice by students of a part-time distance learning route; a broader and better-informed understanding of professional outcomes on a professionally-oriented doctorate; the value of flexible support systems for EdD students working in demanding educational roles.

Author Biographies

John Butcher, University of Northampton


Sandy Sieminski, The Open University

Lecturer in Social Work education at the Open University


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How to Cite

Butcher, J., & Sieminski, S. (2009). Enhancing professional self-esteem: learners’ journeys on a distance-learning Doctorate in Education (EdD). Enhancing the Learner Experience in Higher Education, 1(1), 44–55. https://doi.org/10.14234/elehe.v1i1.7