Article

Slaying the beast: Writing, learning and experiencing in a post-dissertation world

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Abstract

This article looks at the motivation behind the removal of the final-year dissertation from the fashion, textiles and footwear undergraduate programmes at the University of Northampton. The removal process was not straightforward and occurred over a number of years and through a process of ‘mini actions’ that in large part were driven by student response to changes implemented by the programme team. The title ‘Slaying the beast: Writing, learning and experiencing in a post-dissertation world’ is intended to suggest both the iconic status the final-year dissertation within undergraduate study has and methods of engagement that can be used to replace this set-piece academic exercise. The discussion is organized under five sections with offer reflections on the process and issues involved in this transition, each with a title that is designed to capture the experience: Identifying the beast; Taking aim; The misery of choice; To B or not to B; Taking down the beast; Burying the beast; and finally Looking back on the quest.

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Chapter
This chapter describes the experiences of two Black women that have earned doctoral degrees from predominately white institutions, through their narratives. The authors described their experiences using the metaphorical backdrop of a storm. The beginning of their doctoral program represents the calm before the storm. Their experiences within their doctoral program symbolize the authors' movement through the eye of the storm. Finally, the description of the aftermath of the storm symbolizes their post-doctoral journey. They use Tinto's student integrations model as the lens to view their narratives. They describe their institutional experiences by elaborating on their goal and institutional commitments, and their academic and social systems. One of the social aspects of the institutional experience that helped them successfully navigate their doctoral program was inclusion in the Brown Gurlz. The Brown Gurlz is a group of Black women who need a space and place to collaborate and share experiences to benefit all that are in the group.
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