Inextricable: Doctoral writing, engagement, and creativity

  • Cecile Badenhorst Memorial University
  • Brittany Amell Carleton University, Canada


Engagement is an important issue for doctoral students since many feel a sense of isolation or alienation. In this paper we link doctoral writing to student (dis)engagement and suggest that creative writing practices are crucial to overcoming disaffection. Using autoethnography and arts-based methods (collage and narratives), we draw on our experiences from our different positionalities as doctoral student and doctoral supervisor to explore creativity, writing and doctoral student engagement. We find that creativity plays two roles: the individual insight and inspiration needed generate novel and original research ideas and conclusions; and the social-cultural interactions that result in community participation and building ideas off one another.  Engaging in creative practice is not without challenges because of the conflicting discourses inherent in the concept, yet the benefits are surprising and valuable.  We concluded that creative practices need to be mediated to encourage a critical consciousness; that these activities help to work through periods of being “stuck” and to value these liminal spaces; and finally, that the focus on creativity allows students to in chaotic research spaces in flexible ways.

Author Biographies

Cecile Badenhorst, Memorial University

Associate Prof, Adult and Post-secondary education, Faculty of Education

Brittany Amell, Carleton University, Canada

PhD Candidate, School of Linguistics and Language Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada


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How to Cite
Badenhorst, C., & Amell, B. (2019). Inextricable: Doctoral writing, engagement, and creativity. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 2(3), 118-137. Retrieved from