Each year, the Academic Commission at the UOC awards prizes for outstanding excellence in a doctoral dissertation within each program stream offered by the doctoral school. Candidates must have received the highest grade during the initial defence, including the Cum Laude mention, among a range of other criteria, and later be included in a program wide evaluation. Mitchell Peters, who has worked as a predoctoral student of the Edul@b research group under the supervision of Dr. Montse Guitert and Dr. Marc Romero, has won the Special Prize for the best record in the Doctoral programme in Education and ICT (e-learning) programme in the academic year 2019/2020.
Dr. Peters began his studies as a full-time grant-holder in the 2016-2017 academic year, conducting research on student experiences of learning in online higher education. As a researcher interested in educational innovation and lifelong learning, he quickly took up one of the core frameworks adopted by the Edul@b research group, namely the concept of Learning Ecologies. Mitchell focused his research on the student experience and developed a mixed methods approach, adopting a multiple case study design across three well-established fully online M.Ed programs in the field of Educational Technology (also known as Digital Education, Education and ICT, or e-Learning). Mitchell’s thesis, entitled “The Contribution of Lifelong Learning Ecologies in Online Higher Education: Graduate Student Learning Across Contexts”, is noted for its comprehensive and integrated examination of student experiences of learning using a range of qualitative and quantitative techniques. The central aim of the study was focused on identifying both formal and informal student learning strategies and practices—in order to better support and empower connected forms of lifelong and lifewide learning.
As a Canadian researcher with over 10 years of experience teaching at all levels, from k-12 and university and adult education, Dr. Peters has a global profile. This led to Mitchell’s keen interest in attaining the International Mention, which requires a research collaboration with an academic institution outside of Spain. Mitchell chose the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research on Digital Education in his third year of study, which also was one of the case-sites used within the study (M.Sc. in Digital Education). He used this opportunity to disseminate early findings and collaborate with researchers working in the field, as well as finalize results used in an article published in the British Journal of Educational Technology (which can be viewed here). He also had the opportunity to present at international conferences in Educational Technology in Ireland, Italy, and Greece.
Later this month, the thesis will be openly published on the TDX website.