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A personal approach to research degree supervision: from practice to adult learning theory


Title: A personal approach to research degree supervision: from practice to adult learning theory Author: Division Of BUE Last modified by: TOUCH XP 2010 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: A personal approach to research degree supervision: from practice to adult learning theory

A personal approach to research degree
supervision from practice to adult learning
  • Four useful Chinese sayings and connections to
    the Great Tradition in adult education

Differences in the approach to research
doctorate supervision financial economic
educational learning
The doctoral learning journey
the student/supervisor relationship
Financial economic
  • An administrative perspective
  • Cost-based approach to service provision
  • One size fits all management ethos
  • Ration the amount of personal contact
  • between student and supervisor

The doctoral learning journey
the student/supervisor relationship
Educational learning
Learner-centred approach Based on adult learning
theory Focused on the learning process
individual learner needs Focused on natural
development of learning capability and
warming up through delayed selection.
Supervisor-centred approach Focused more on
knowledge acquisition than the adult learner or
the learning process Focused on early assessment
and cooling out selection.
The doctoral learning journey
the student/supervisor relationship
Adult learning issues what role for supervisors?
  • Most students can only study part-time and have
    heavy responsibilities elsewhere.
  • Some students underestimate the commitment of
    time, energy, intellectual and emotional
    resources required.
  • Many students have limited experience of
    thinking, writing and operating in academic
    research mode.
  • Sometimes it is well into the supervision process
    before cognitive click occurs and students
    really understand what they want to know.
  • Many students lose momentum, often feeling lonely
    and isolated.

The Long March ????-- Mao Zedong ????????????
????? sustain the commitment
??????????????? ??????????????????????????????????
??????????????????????? ??????????????????????????
Stretch and bend ???? ?????????????? ??????
????????????????????????????? enable learner to
work in partnership with the supervisor,
comprehend Western mode of discourse and submit
to the dictatorship of the academic
?????????????????????? ???????????????????????????
Walk on two legs ????? ??????????????????????
?????????????? balance between theory
practice, evidence interpretation
??????????????????????? ??????????????????????????
?????????? ???????????????? ????????????
????????? ?????????????
Guide, philosopher and friend ???? ??????????
????????????? ?????????????????????? sustain the
working relationship
????????? ???????????????????? ??????
?????????????????????????? ??????????????????????
Balance in supervision
  • Knowing and liking the person
  • Facilitating the learning process
  • Focus on task performance and knowledge

Supervision what philosophy and working practice
to adopt?
The liberal-humanist cosmopolitan knowledge camp
The didactic- instructional functional
knowledge camp
Two forms of knowledge in the Age of
Industry and their influence on supervision and
  • Functional related to science and technology,
    instrumental in purpose, didactic and
    instructional in the transfer of knowledge.
  • Cosmopolitan related to the idea of progress and
    improvement in human affairs (political, economic
    and cultural), expressive in purpose with a
    preference for a learner-centred and empowering
    approach to acquiring knowledge

The Great Tradition liberal-humanism in adult
education Some key writers practitioners R H
Tawney and University Extension A H Mansbridge
and the W E A R B Madgwick and Australian Army
Education Bishop Grundtvig and the Danish Folk
High Schools R Tagore, Indian poet and
philosopher Cardinal Newman and The Idea of a
University M S Knowles and adult learning
theory and many more of my heroic figures
Contributions made to adult education in the
Great Tradition
  • Cosmopolitan knowledge and the search for social
  • Education for all and the ladder of opportunity.
  • Adult education and the second chance for the
    late developer (or delayed selection and
    continuous warming up to prevent premature
    cooling out).
  • Andragogy and a person-centred, experiential
    approach to knowledge with the role of the
    teacher/supervisor as an empowering learning

Cardinal John Newman (1801-1890) A truly liberal
education is the best aid to professional and
scientific studylearning to think and reason..
and to analyseform judgements and sharpen mental
Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) The idea of adult
education is to learn to think independently and
express oneself freely using the personal
relationship between teacher and student as the
catalyst to discover ones own style of learning
  • By tightening up with early assessment we replace
    a late developer ethos with a front-end,
    early selection and cooling out model of adult
    learning, and go back to the elitism of the 1950s
    and a narrow, instrumental university culture.

  • We reduce the person and learner-centred
    nurturing model of supervision with a
    performance-assessment model that is more focused
    on functional knowledge outcomes than the adult
    learning and maturation process needed and valued
    by mid-career professional people.

How to make a research proposal in easy steps
  • Think about the importance of having a cognitive
    roadmap before your journey begins.
  • Dont rely on inspiration and luck!

Some key learning principles of the cognitive
  • Higher degrees, especially research-based ones,
    develop capability in independent, self-directed
  • They also move the learner from a consumer to a
    producer of knowledge.
  • You learn to take full responsibility for your
    own learning (a Buddhist precept) and not become
    dependent on your supervisor.

Some background ideas
  • Eventually your proposal should pass the test of
    plausibility (does it make sense?) and
    manageability (can it be done in a reasonable
  • You can either design a very detailed research
    plan (or roadmap) or one that is flexible enough
    to develop as you go further. This will depend on
    how you learn.

Step one what do you want to know?
  • Start with the most basic question What do you
    want to know?
  • Translate the question into a problem statement.
  • Explain why research on your topic is useful and
  • Explain what contribution to knowledge your
    research will make. Is it more about theory or
    practical application?

Step one (continued)
  • Produce the core research questions.
  • Make use of the six friends to create the
    research questions
  • What?
  • Why?
  • How?
  • Where?
  • When?
  • Who?

Step two the literature
  • Who else has written on your topic?
  • Identify the need to know literature that can
    help you do these things-
  • Express the research problem more fully
  • Provide conceptual frameworks
  • Provide examples of research design methods
  • Data to compare and contrast your own
  • Ideas on how to generalise your research

Step three research design methods
  • Let the problem drive the method
  • Explain, justify and defend whatever research
    design methods you take (eg. Case study)
  • How are you going to collect data?
  • Pay special attention to your population sample
    (if applicable). How representative?
  • How are you going to process and analyse your
  • Advise on your research limitations
  • Is your research ethical?

Step four the research plan
  • Provide an outline structure and content plan of
    the entire work.
  • The plan is certain to change as you discover and
    learn more but it is still a useful exercise to
    think ahead

Step five the research timetable
  • Provide an outline timetable of your research
    management plan.
  • How long on the overall research plan?
  • How long on reviewing the literature?
  • How long on getting the fieldwork completed?
  • How long on data-set analysis?
  • How long to write up your research?

Step six is the proposal presentable?
  • Check through the proposal carefully for simple
    errors of presentation
  • Pay special attention to your-
  • Problem statement
  • Core research questions
  • Key concepts and theories,
  • The literature review knowledge gap
  • Research design methods
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