Postdoctoral scholars' perspectives about professional learning and development: a concurrent mixed-methods study

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Postdoctoral scholars pursue diverse career paths requiring broad skill sets; however, little is known about postdoctoral scholars’ perspectives about their professional learning, and development needs. The objective of this mixed-methods study was to identify current professional learning and development opportunities used by postdoctoral scholars to obtain the required broad skills sets of value for a changing career landscape. A concurrent mixed-methods design was utilized including a cross sectional survey and qualitative interviews. Analysis was conducted using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis; quantitative and qualitative findings were then triangulated for convergent themes. Key findings indicate that although postdoctoral scholars engage in a variety of professional learning, the perceived usefulness of these sessions varies widely, and the types of professional learning and development that they engage in, may not best support the realities of their future careers. Given the significant resources often required to support professional learning and development initiatives, a deeper understanding and alignment of postdoctoral scholars needs with provided opportunities may help to ensure scarce resources are invested in the most useful and effective strategies.