The Review of higheR educaTion
competencies, such as a student’s disposition toward the subject matter or professional development, are also desirable but are typically more qualita- tive measures of success (Hagedorn & Nora, 1996).
Undergirding all of these conceptualizations of success is the involvement of faculty members in the doctoral program and with the doctoral student (Austin,2002; Clark & Corcoran,1986; Lovitts,2001;Weidman & Stein,2003; Wulff & Austin, 2004). They serve as teachers, advisors, committee members, mentors, role models, and future colleagues. Despite their important role, however, no known studies have sought to determine how faculty members in doctoral education would define success. In other words, if faculty play such an integral role in the multitude of success outcomes for doctoral stu- dents, how they conceptualize success is key to understanding how to best structure programs, services, and experiences for this success.
An important caveat must be made, however: The doctoral education experience is not monolithic. Doctoral education is experienced differently within and among different disciplines. Disciplines have their own particular qualities, cultures, codes of conduct, values, and distinctive intellectual tasks (Austin, 2002; Becher, 1981) that ultimately influence the experiences of the faculty, staff, and, most especially, the students within their walls. Therefore, while studies of the undergraduate experience as related to success often occur at the institutional level (e.g., Tinto, 1993), the discipline and the de- partment become the central focus of the doctoral experience, rather than the larger institution (Berelson, 1960; Bowen & Rudenstine, 1992; Golde, 2005; Nerad & Miller, 1996).
Much of the common understanding about disciplinary differences and categorizations is based on Biglan’s (1973a) work, which identified the cultural and social structures of academic disciplines, resulting in their classifications as hard/soft, pure/applied, and life/nonlife systems. While not the first research conducted on disciplinary differences (see Braxton & Hargens, 1996 for a comprehensive discussion), Biglan’s work is a testa- ment to the concept that studies of academic cultures and contexts cannot be generalized across disciplines.
Work done by Becher (1981) expounded on the understanding of dis- ciplinary differences. The disciplinary groupings developed by Becher and Trowler (2001) included the (a) pure sciences, akin to Biglan’s hard-pure grouping; (b) the humanities, similar to Biglan’s hard-applied disciplines; (c) technologies, much like the hard-applied disciplines in Biglan’s model; and (d) applied social sciences, like Biglan’s soft-applied areas. Becher also contributed to the common understanding of “rural” and “urban” fields, further explaining the social structures within disciplinary cultures.Whereas