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Introduction to Research Supervision

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Title: Introduction to Research Supervision


1
Introduction to Research Supervision
  • Margaret KileyCEDAM

2
Program
  • Supervision
  • Supervisory relationships
  • Supervisory contexts
  • Supervisor roles and responsibilities

3
ENVIRONMENT/CONTEXT Candidates and supervisors
interact and learning within a research learning
environment
discipline
CANDIDATE CHARACTERISTICS e.g. gender, age,
enrolment, previous academic /research
experience, motivation, intellectual capacity,
research topics, conceptions of research
OUTCOMES Timely progression and completion
Career prospects Publications Quality
thesis Research and generic skills
Research understandings Changed world view
Changed perception of self as researcher
and learner Becoming a researcher
Contribution to field of research Social
Value
institutional protocols
LEARNING AND RESEARCH EXPERIENCES e.g.
modification/development of expectations,
conceptions, approaches to research supervision
research culture
ASSESSMENT AND EXAMINATION
government policies
SUPERVISOR CHARCTERISTICS e.g. previous doctoral
experiences, gender, age, previous experience
supervising/ examining, conceptions of research
global developments
university policies
4
Supervision rather than Supervisor
  • Research suggests that there are a range of roles
    that need to be filled in terms of research
    supervision, in addition to knowledge of the
    topic and methodology, these are
  • Mentor
  • Coach
  • Facilitator of candidature
  • Sponsor
  • From Pearson, M Kayrooz, C. (2004). Enabling
    critical reflection on research supervisory
    practice. International Journal for Academic
    Development, 9(1), 99-116

5
Mentor
  • The mentoring role requires specific subject
    expertise and includes mentoring students so
    they can complete the research project itself,
    but also mentoring the intellectual development
    of the student, i.e.
  • Encourages publishing
  • Encourages networking
  • Helps with seminar and conference presentations
  • Assists with career goals

6
Coach
  • The coach role involves helping candidates
    develop their research expertise while they are
    actually doing their research project. The
    coaching role often is performed by a range of
    people. This role includes
  • Helping students with identifying the research
    question and theoretical framework
  • Helping plan and refine the project
  • Advising on critical aspects of research
  • Being directive when needed

7
Progressing/facilitating Candidature
  • The progressing the candidature role can be
    thought as facilitation-related functions, this
    includes
  • Monitoring progress
  • Periodically reviewing supervision arrangements
  • Negotiating availability and initiating contact
  • Devoting sufficient time to the student

8
Sponsor
  • The sponsor is one who, for example, will
  • Ensure candidates have access to basic resources
  • Ensure, or advise on how, students can access
    funding for conferences, field work etc
  • Keep students current with policies procedures
  • Identify administrative procedures that students
    need to meet
  • Provide access to expertise and full
    participation in the research practice
    including alternative sources of expertise.

9
Can/should one person do all this?
  • While there are a few outstanding people who can
    fulfill all of those roles, generally we find
    that one person is strong in one area and not so
    strong in another.
  • In your group, discuss
  • Which of the roles reflect your strengths?
  • Which roles would you need someone else to
    fulfill?
  • What can/should you do about it?
  • How can you encourage your candidates to seek out
    people who can fulfill the four roles?

10
Tools
  • Expectation Scale
  • Learning needs analysis
  • To assist students identify strengths that they
    bring to their candidature and where they need to
    develop new skills and knowledge
  • Supervisory alignment
  • To assist students and supervisors gain a sense
    of where the other is situated
  • Memorandum of Understanding
  • Helpful for even just discussing the aspects of
    supervision without necessarily turning into an
    MoU

11
Expectations
  • Expectation scale
  • Read and decide where you fit on the scale for
    each of the points
  • Discuss with the group

12
Communication Techniques
  • In groups, discuss techniques that you have used,
    your supervisor used, or you know from others
    that have helped communication (st/su, st/panel,
    st/st, st/other) e.g.
  • Agendas for, and Notes from, individual and panel
    meetings
  • Memorandum of Understanding
  • Email/web-based discussion
  • Group meetings (with different candidates getting
    practice at chairing, noting etc)
  • Regular meeting times/Open-door policy/Meetings
    as needed
  • Meetings with others in the Centre/disciplines

13
The hard facts
  • Code of Practice
  • HRD Enrolments, progression and completion (RTS)
  • Evaluative data re the HDR experience
    supervision

14
Research Training Scheme
  • The Government funds a certain number of RTS
    places to universities annually. Some places are
    high cost e.g. some sciences, others low cost
    e.g. humanities
  • Funding is determined by students enrolled i.e.
    reaching target, student completions, and other
    research income e.g. from staff research grants
    and publications
  • Funding is calculated on a four-year candidature
    (FTE) i.e. if a student takes longer than four
    years then, the University is not being paid for
    supervising that student.

15
Graduate Destinations (2005) within University
Type
16
Postgraduate Research Experience Questionnaire
(PREQ)
  • Developed by Graduate Careers Council of
    Australia in 1998
  • Distributed by each University after graduation
    with results collated nationally by GCCA and then
    sent to each university
  • 28 Statements clustered into six scales
  • Supervision (1, 7, 13, 21, 24)
  • Skill development (6, 10, 14, 20, 26)
  • Intellectual climate (5, 9, 16, 22, 23)
  • Infrastructure (3, 8, 12, 18, 27)
  • Thesis Examination (2, 15, 25)
  • Goals and Expectations (4, 11, 19)
  • Overall Satisfaction (28)

17
PREQ 2004 (National)
  • Supervision Scale (Agree 45)
  • 2002 70.8
  • 2003 72.7
  • 2004 72.7
  • Skill Development (Agree 45)
  • 2002 89
  • 2003 89.6
  • 2004 91.1
  • Intellectual Climate (Agree 45)
  • 2002 54.7
  • 2003 56.3
  • 2004 57.7
  • Infrastructure Scale (Agree 45)
  • 2002 65.8
  • 2003 67.2
  • 2004 68.5
  • Thesis Examination Scale (Agree 45)
  • 2002 75.0
  • 2003 75.1
  • 2004 76.7
  • Clarity of Expectations (Agree 45)
  • 2002 87.5
  • 2003 89.3
  • 2004 90.1

Overall Satisfaction 2002 80.8, 2003 82.3,
2004 83.8
18
What does this instrument say about the
postgraduate research experience?
  • In groups look through the statements that
    students are asked to consider in the PREQ.
  • What sort of picture are they implying of the
    research experience?
  • How does that relate to your own experience?
  • What might it mean for you as a supervisor?

19
Intellectual Climate
  • From the PREQ results we can see that one of the
    scales which is consistently low is Intellectual
    Climate or research culture
  • In pairs work through the sheet in your folder
    titled Developing a vibrant research culture
    among your postgraduate students
  • How might you contribute to, and encourage your
    students to also contribute to, a positive
    research culture in your discipline/school?

20
Evaluation Strategies
  • Supervision is very difficult to evaluate given
    the small number of students involved and lack of
    anonymity
  • On the other hand we need some sort of feedback
    on performance for both formative (improvement)
    and summative (going for promotion) purposes
  • Consider the options that are available at
    Newcastle
  • Look at the Alternative Evaluation Strategies
    sheet and the case study and discuss in groups
    whether any of those ideas would work for you.

21
Stages of Candidature
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Framing the candidature e.g. needs analysis,
    expectations, topic selection/refinement,
    establishing the panel, literature review and
    methodology
  • Guiding and monitoring progress e.g. ensure
    formal requirements met, writing, development of
    networks, feedback on progress
  • Completing e.g. when to stop, feedback,
    nomination of examiners, support during and after
    examination
  • The post graduation phase e.g. preparing a
    research and publication plan

22
Case Study
  • In your folder you have Case Study 1(a) and 1 (b)
  • In your group work through one of the case
    studies and discuss the questions at the end

23
Case Study (cont)
  • Now work through the other case study in the
    folder
  • Can you see how the misunderstandings might have
    developed?
  • How might they have been avoided?

24
Supervisory Panels
  • Discuss how you might work with a candidate on
    the task of constructing a panel/committee taking
    into account the various roles (Mentor, Coach,
    Facilitator, Reflective Practitioner and Sponsor)
    and the different stages of candidature and the
    related responsibilities. (Supervisory Framework
    might be useful as a guide)

25
The Proposal Seminar
  • Many universities in Australia only allow
    students an interim enrolment until they have
    successfully completed their proposal seminar
  • There is evidence to suggest a correlation be a
    high quality research proposal and successful PhD
    submission and completion
  • Who at Newcastle is responsible for organising
    the the seminar?
  • What guidance is the candidate given?

26
Feedback on work
  • One of the most common complaints from candidates
    is the lack of timely and useful feedback from
    supervisors
  • These complaints come through in national surveys
    e.g. the Postgraduate Research Experience
    Questionnaire (PREQ)
  • What makes for useful feedback?
  • What is timely?

27
In small groups
  • How do supervisors give feedback to research
    candidates? E.g. did your supervisor give you
    verbal, hand written on written work that has
    been presented, via email etc
  • How often do you think a supervisor should
    provide feedback and how can they make the time
    to do it?
  • What advice can supervisors give to candidates
    about submitting work for feedback e.g. suggest
    that candidates give them drafts to read as they
    are about to head off on a long flight?
  • What do supervisors expect candidates to do with
    the feedback? e.g. does the supervisor expect
    them to act on it or is it for advice only?

28
Monitoring Progress
  • Monitoring progress has been shown to be
    critical in candidature.
  • Most Australian universities have a system (e.g.
    Annual Progress Reports) where the supervisory
    panel/committee discusses with the candidate
    their progress over the past 12 months and plans
    for the next 12 months
  • Reflecting on, and discussing progress, have been
    shown to have a positive affect on progress. It
    can also be the time when changes are made to the
    panel.
  • What happens at Newcastle?

29
Examination
  • The Supervisory Panel is responsible for
    proposing names of potential examiners to the
    Head of School (or equivalent)
  • Encouraged to discuss potential names with the
    candidate, but generally candidates do not to
    know final names
  • Generally 50 of all Australian dissertations are
    sent overseas
  • The aim is to find examiners who are
    knowledgeable in the area and who will give a
    fair and balanced opinion
  • The mean time for examination of
  • accept as is theses is 0.35 of a year
  • minor revision 0.39 of a year (although 17 took
    more than six months)
  • major revision 0.53 of a year and
  • revise and resubmit 1.39 years. (Courtesy Sid
    Bourke)

30
Experienced Examiners report that they
  • Expect the student to pass as they open the
    thesis
  • Are very reluctant to fail a student with most
    experiencing considerable distress if they do so
  • Come to a decision about the quality of a PhD by
    about the end of Chapter 2
  • Have a formative rather than summative view of
    thesis examination
  • Believe that there is a risk attached to sending
    theses to inexperienced examiners
  • Are reluctant to take much notice of
    institutional criteria when examining
  • See Nobel Prize paper for more detail

31
Experienced Examiners appear to
  • Be fiercely independent in their views
  • Hold varying views about the purpose of the PhD.
    (Is it the thesis or the student being
    examined?)
  • Consider professional duty as the main reason for
    examining, followed by the fact that they are
    going to be needing examiners for their own
    students!
  • Devote considerable time to examining each thesis
  • Have surprisingly broad approaches to
    methodology/ paradigm
  • Demonstrate few discipline differences in their
    responses, other than regarding publications

32
Inexperienced Examiners
  • Have a high level of confidence in their ability
    to examine (which is not always reflected in what
    they say in response to other questions)
  • Frequently talked about experience from
    supervising examining Honours students and
    theses
  • Adopt a similar approach to the actual process of
    examining as do their more experienced
    colleagues, although they are more likely to
    focus on the steps or components of a PhD
    rather than the whole
  • See their role as maintaining standards and
    performing their summative assessment role
    correctly

33
Inexperienced Examiners
  • At a surprisingly high rate, wanted to fail first
    thesis or said it was awful
  • Are more prone, than experienced examiners, to
    follow institutional criteria.
  • Felt (some of them) that they were being examined
    too
  • Suggest that one of their main difficulties is
    their inability to benchmark
  • Seem to have very high expectations of the
    supervisors of the thesis being examined

34
Is there a difference?
  • From work of Trafford (2003) from 130 vivas it
    was possible to determine that
  • Experienced examiners tended to ask questions
    that can be defined as Defending doctorateness,
    contributing to knowledge, critique of research,
    synthesizing concept
  • Inexperienced examiners tended to ask more
    technical questions
  • Trafford, V. (2003) Questions in doctoral vivas
    Views from the inside, Quality Assurance in
    Education 11(2) pp 114-122

35
Traffords Categorisation
Innovation and DevelopmentHIGH
C. Questions generally related to issues such as
research question, choice of topics, location of
study
D. Defending doctorateness, contributing to
knowledge, critique of research, synthesizing
concept
Scholarship Interpretation
A. Types of questions include resolving research
problems, content, structure
B. Implications, awareness of, and familiarity
with wider literature
LOW
36
Strategies for examining
  • Different examiners approach the task
    differently, but most
  • Begin by reading the Abstract, Introduction
    Conclusion to gauge the scope of the work and
    whether what candidates say they are going to do
    is actually done
  • Look at the references to see what sources have
    been used and whether they need to follow up on
    any of them
  • Then read from cover to cover taking detailed
    notes, finally go back over the thesis to check
    whether their questions have been answered or
    whether their criticisms are justified

37
The reports demonstrate
  • A less than ideal thesis has
  • Too much detail with lack of analysis
  • Lack of confidence, energy engagement by the
    candidate
  • Lack of argument and rigour
  • Shoddy presentation (typos etc)
  • Lack of critique of own analysis/ sweeping
    generalisations based on opinion rather than
    analysis
  • Inadequate or poorly expressed methodology scope
  • A good thesis has
  • Critical analysis argument
  • Confidence a rigorous, self-critical approach
  • A contribution to knowledge
  • Originality, creativity a degree of risk taking
  • Comprehensiveness scholarly approach
  • Sound presentation structure
  • Sound methodology

38
Resources
  • Papers from all seven biennial Quality in
    Postgraduate Research conferences
    http//qpr.edu.au
  • Australian University consortium For Improving
    Research Supervision Training (fIRST)
    http//www.first.edu.au (you will need a Username
    and Password from University Contact)
  • Australian Deans and Directors of Graduate
    Studies http//www.ddogs.edu.au/cgi-bin/index.pl
  • SORTI web site at the University of Newcastle has
    information on examining theses particularly in
    the performing/ visual arts http//www.newcastle.e
    du.au/centre/sorti/publications.html
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