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What Constitutes ‘Good’ Supervision for Course Work Dissertations? Student and Supervisor Perspectives Lynne Roberts.

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Presentation on theme: "What Constitutes ‘Good’ Supervision for Course Work Dissertations? Student and Supervisor Perspectives Lynne Roberts."— Presentation transcript:

1 What Constitutes ‘Good’ Supervision for Course Work Dissertations? Student and Supervisor Perspectives Lynne Roberts

2 Course Work Dissertations Essential component of some undergraduate, honours and master’s coursework degrees Most universities provide policy and procedural documents Limited research into practice of dissertation supervision in coursework degrees Existing research focuses on dissertation practice in PhDs, and may be applied to coursework degrees BUT …. TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives

3 ….Coursework Students Differ from PhD Students No/limited previous independent research experience (Cook, 1980) May have lower interest in conducting research (Cook, 1980) Need to complete research in a shorter timeframe (Rowley & Slack, 2004). Degree may be viewed as route to a professional, rather than research career AND…. TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives

4 ….There are Many More of Them!

5 Research Question How do students and supervisors conceptualise ‘good’ supervision in course work dissertations? TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives

6 Research Participants TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives

7 Semi-Structured Interviews Can you tell me about a time when, from your perspective, supervision has gone well? Prompts: What was it you/your supervisor/your student did that contributed to this? Other contributing factors? TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives

8 Student Supervisor Relationship Shared passion for topic Clear expectations Open communication ‘Good’ Supervision Meetings Relaxed space Concerns listed to Guidance and support Synergy Meeting Outcomes Remotivated students Focus and clarity Agreed course of action Reduced stress Preparation Ownership Management Available Approachable Supportive Good Supervision: Student Perspectives

9 Student Perspectives Supervisor Contribution Approachable Available Supportive Interest in student as person Sensitive to student’s emotions TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives she’s just really helpful and I always feel like I can go to her for help and I never feel like I’m a burden … and she’s always so welcoming and helpful and there and available there is an element of knowing that you can access a bit of emotional support as well, not therapy, but just having that understanding and someone who’s sort of compassionate and flexible and understanding She takes interest in my life outside of uni, so she’s like, “How are you going?” And whatever, and she’s always like, “If you have any other problems?” … I know that if anything comes up, that door is open, that I can communicate with her about that stuff

10 Student Perspectives Student Contribution Coming prepared Taking ownership of project ‘Managing’ supervision process TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives I had everything planned, had questions and they all got answered and addressed in the session, so that was good because I could progress as I wanted to and most of those questions were addressed where needed I can truly say that my research, this current project, is my own. [Supervisor] offers guidance but it’s done so cleverly that it’s all coming from me I have like set questions that I need answered and I go in there and I go, “This is what I wanna know and I wanna know it now,” and that’s when I probably get the best information when I take charge of the structure

11 Student Perspectives Student Supervisor Relationship Shared passion for topic Clear expectations Open communication – Asking questions – Discussing problems TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives She’s so passionate about this area and so that makes it interesting and sort of fun to work alongside her in everything was very organised and they knew exactly what we should be doing and we were told what we should be doing I was confused about a few things and that was sorted out, talked through. And we discussed what approach I might be able to take

12 Student Perspectives ‘Good’ Supervision Meetings Relaxed space Concerns listened to Support – Guidance – Reassurance Synergy TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives I’m like this new fresh lamb and these are my shepherds. They’re helping me along like, “Here’s the best grass over here.” Without telling me what to do …she says, “Hang on. You need to stop for a second. Think about what you’re doing. Think about this, this and this; you’re on the right track,” you know, “Just stay on the path you’re on,” and it sort of allowed me to come back and continue it was all of us thinking together and working as a team. It wasn’t just coming and saying, ‘Oh here’s my idea.’ ‘Oh yeah that’s good okay’ It’s like a very relaxed space and I think when you feel relaxed, I can be myself within the boundaries of the teacher- student – and I think that really helps ‘cause I know if I get stressed, my brain, cognitively, just shuts down

13 Student Perspectives Meeting Outcomes Remotivated student Focus and clarity Agreed course of action Reduced stress TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives I was just lacking in motivation and I didn't have anything to say about the dissertation but then when I left, I was like, “Oh, I actually do have my head around this,” because she brought it out of me with our discussion and she was just asking questions and I’d found myself saying all these things we’d resolve that particular issue or it was in the process of being resolved, and I came out feeling a lot more relaxed and less stressed about the project when we had meetings together, we would come out and say, “Oh, gee, I feel great. I feel so relieved we’ve had this meeting.”

14 Student Supervisor Relationship Shared passion for topic Clear expectations Positive relationship/group dynamic ‘Good’ Supervision Meetings Guidance Clarification Positive feedback Meeting Outcomes Personal growth Skill development Student satisfaction Interest Ownership Supportive Provide structure Research knowledge Good Supervision: Supervisor Perspectives

15 Supervisor Contribution Providing structure Supportive Ability to explain Research knowledge TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives Supervisor Perspectives being able to connect with the person on a personal level as well as a professional level making it seem relatively straight forward … They were sort of seeing it as this big year long haul, and trying to break it down to show that it was doable, and this is how we were going to do it talking about their variables in real terms, instead of scientific terms, so this is what it is all about, this is what we know about it, this is what we can do it’s really your experience in terms of what can be done in the time that you’ve got

16 Supervisor Perspectives Student Contribution Interest in topic Student ownership of project TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives it was their first choice topic and I think that that is always an advantage. So I think they were just naturally interested in the area the supervision I like is when the students are able to steer it

17 Student Supervisor Relationship Shared passion for topic Clear expectations Positive relationship/ group dynamic TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives Supervisor Perspectives I think that that interpersonal process facilitates the teaching process, but unless you have that supportive interpersonal relationship between the student and the supervisor, if that’s not there, then I don’t think that the end result is as good it’s all a matter of getting those [expectations] sorted between the two people at the beginning and sitting down [cosupervisor] and I were a bit of more upbeat because it’s like, “Hey, look. It’s [type of project]; this is our thing.” And the group feeds off of that, and it’s also because they are upbeat so this is a really nice atmosphere

18 ‘Good’ Supervision Meetings Discussion Guidance Clarification Positive feedback Supervisor Perspectives look to facilitate what the students are and accommodate their interests and try and guide them without sort of taking over or dictating what it is that they should do We give them like, “Hey. You guys are doing really well. You should be proud of yourself. You’re getting this blah blah blah.” And they were like, “Oh, yeah.” clarification in terms of goals and stuff like that...[to] “yank them [students] out of that swamp or quagmire of uncertainty TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives

19 Meeting Outcomes Personal growth Skill development Student satisfaction Supervisor Perspectives TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives when I see the research group and they’re all, “Oh yes. This is so much fun! I totally get it.” And see them change They’re saying that all they want to do is they just want to do their project, and they’ve got all this coursework but they just want to do their project I’m just satisfied when the student seems satisfied or I feel like I’ve been helpful or been able to guide students and they seem to have moved forward … it’s when I feel like I’ve been competent in the sense of not necessarily giving answers but in providing instruction that helps the students move along and acquire skills themselves

20 Student Supervisor Relationship Open communication Shared passion for topic Clear expectations Positive relationship/group dynamic ‘Good’ Supervision Meetings Relaxed space Concerns listed to Guidance and support Synergy Clarification Positive feedback Meeting Outcomes Remotivated student Focus and clarity Agreed course of action Reduced stress Personal growth Skill development Student satisfaction Preparation Management Ownership Interest Available Approachable Supportive Provide structure Research knowledge Good Supervision: Supervisor and Student Perspectives

21 Negotiated Practice TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives University/Faculty/School Guidelines Negotiated Practice

22 Website:

23 Invitation to Participate Forthcoming workshops for supervisors to identify and develop best practice Continuing interviews with new supervisors and dissertation coordinators TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives

24 How do these models of good supervision fit with your own experiences, as supervisor or as student? TLF 2014: Good Supervision: Student and Supervisor Perspectives


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