University of Oulu

Pyhältö, K., Peltonen, J., Anttila, H., Frick, L.L. and de Jager, P. (2023), "Engaged and/or burnt out? Finnish and South African doctoral students’ experiences", Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 1-18.

Engaged and/or burnt out? : Finnish and South African doctoral students’ experiences

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Author: Pyhältö, Kirsi1; Peltonen, Jouni2; Anttila, Henrika1;
Organizations: 1Centre for University Teaching and Learning, Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2Department of Educational Sciences and Teacher Education, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Curriculum Studies, Centre for Higher and Adult Education, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa
4Department of Finance and Tax, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.3 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Emerald, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-05-02


Purpose: Doctoral students’ ill-being in terms of stress, exhaustion and high levels of mental health problems has been well documented. Yet, the well-being of doctoral students is more than the absence of these negative symptoms. The number of studies exploring the combination of positive and negative attributes of doctoral students’ well-being is limited. Therefore, this study aims to focus on exploring individual variation in doctoral students’ experienced engagement and burnout across two distinct socio-cultural contexts in Finland and in South Africa.

Design/methodology/approach: A total of 884 doctoral students from Finland (n = 391) and South Africa (n = 493) responded to the cross-cultural Doctoral Experience Survey. The data were quantitatively analyzed.

Findings: Altogether four distinctive engagement–burnout profiles were detected, including engaged, engaged–exhausted, moderately engaged–burnout and burnout profiles. Differences between the Finnish and South African students were identified in profile emphasis. The profiles were also related to several study progress attributes such as drop-out intentions, time-to-candidacy and satisfaction with study.

Originality/value: This study provides new understanding on doctoral students’ well-being by focusing on both positive and negative attributes and exploring doctoral students’ discrepant profiles with a cross-country design.

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Series: Studies in graduate and postdoctoral education
ISSN: 2398-4686
ISSN-E: 2398-4694
ISSN-L: 2398-4686
Volume: 14
Issue: 1
Pages: 1 - 18
DOI: 10.1108/SGPE-02-2021-0013
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Copyright information: © Kirsi Pyhältö, Jouni Peltonen, Henrika Anttila, Liezel Liezel Frick and Phillip de Jager. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at licences/by/4.0/legalcode.