Reflecting on supervision experiences: Honours students' research projects in development studies at the nelson Mandela University

A. Mhlahlo

Abstract


 

This article reflects on my supervision experience of students conducting their one-year research projects at Honours level in the Department of Development Studies at Nelson Mandela University from 2016 to 2018. My conclusion is that students who are enrolled in the block-release1 learning program do not have adequate face-to-face access to various university support systems, such as group work sessions with fellow research students on campus or close to it, regular meetings with supervisors, and research-related workshops. This contributes to students’ feeling of loneliness and exclusion from the university community. As supervisors, we are guilty sometimes, of not encouraging our students to enter the research community by publishing research papers, as they progress towards finishing their research projects. This article proposes strategies to overcome the identified challenges and to exploit emerging opportunities, in order to improve the research supervision practice. The intention of this study is to contribute to the field of teaching and learning in the South African higher education sector, by proposing strategies to improve the practice of research supervision.

 


Keywords


reflection on research supervision, research supervision, research supervision and training, postgraduate research students

Full Text:

PDF

References


Åkerlind, G. and L. McAlpine. 2017. Supervising doctoral students: Variation in purpose and pedagogy. Studies in Higher Education 42(9): 1686‒1698.

Albertyn, R., S. Van Coller-Peter and J. Morrison. 2018. A multi-level researcher development framework to address contrasting views of student research challenges. South African Journal of Higher Education 32(1): 13‒30.

Bak, N. 2011. Professionalising the supervision relationship: A reply to Waghid, Fataar and Hugo. South African Journal of Higher Education 25(6): 1047‒1061.

Bastalich, W. 2017. Content and context in knowledge production: A critical review of doctoral supervision literature. Studies in Higher Education 42(7): 1145‒1157.

Bitzer, E. M. and R. M. Albertyn. 2011. Alternative approaches to postgraduate supervision: A planning tool to facilitate supervisory processes. South African Journal of Higher Education 25: 874‒888.

Bitzer, E. M, V. N. Trafford and S. Leshem. 2013. “Love it when you speak foreign”: A trans-national perspective on the professional development of doctoral supervisors in South Africa. South African Journal of Higher Education 27(4): 781‒796.

Boehe, D. M. 2014. Supervisory styles: A contingency framework. Studies in Higher Education 41(3): 399‒414.

Bozalek, V. and C. Boughey. 2012. (Mis)framing higher education in South Africa. Social Policy and Administration 46(6): 688‒703.

Bryant, L. and K. Jaworski. 2017. Book reviews. Journal of Sociology 53(1): 264‒268.

Burns, R. W. and B. Badiali. 2016. Unearthing the complexities of clinical pedagogy in supervision: Identifying the pedagogical skills of supervisors. Action in Teacher Education 38(2): 156‒174.

Chikte, U. M. E. and J. A. Chabilall. 2016. Exploration of supervisor and student experiences during masters studies in a Health Science Faculty. South African Journal of Higher Education 30(1): 57‒79.

Choy, S., B. L. Delahaye and B. Saggers. 2014. Developing learning cohorts for postgraduate research degrees. Aust. Educ. Res 42: 19‒34.

Corner, S., E. Löfström and K. Pyhältö. 2017. By the relationship between doctoral students: Supervision and burnout. International Journal of Doctoral Studies 12: 91‒106.

De Kleijn, R. A. M., P. C. Meijer, M. Brekelmans and A. Pilot. 2015. Adaptive research supervision: Exploring expert thesis supervisors’ practical knowledge. Higher Education Research and Development 34(1): 117‒130.

De Lange, N., G. Pillay and V. Chikoko. 2011. Doctoral learning: A case for a cohort model of supervision and support. South African Journal of Higher Education 31: 15‒30.

Donnelly, R. and M. Fitzmaurice. 2017. Resource pack on supervising postgraduate students. Resource pack prepared in the LTTC, DIT.

Erwee, R., P. Albion, H. Van Rensburg and R. Malan. 2011. Dealing with doctoral students: Tips from the trenches. South African Journal of Higher Education 25(5): 889‒901.

Grossman, E. S. and N. J. Crowther. 2015. Co-supervision in postgraduate training: Ensuring the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. South African Journal of Science 111(11/12): 104‒111.

Grossman, E. S. 2016. “My supervisor is so busy ....” Informal spaces for postgraduate learning in the Health Sciences. South African Journal of Higher Education 30(2): 94‒109.

Guerin, C., H. Kerr and I. Green. 2014. Supervision pedagogies: Narratives from the field. Teaching in Higher Education 20(1): 107‒118.

Gumbo, M. T. 2019. Online or offline supervision? Postgraduate supervisors state their position at university of South Africa. South African Journal of Higher Education 33: 92‒110.

Hallett, F. 2013. Study support and the development of academic literacy in higher education: A phenomenographic analysis. Teaching in Higher Education 18: 518‒530.

Hodza, F. 2007. Managing the student-supervisor relationship for successful postgraduate supervision: A sociological perspective. South African Journal of Higher Education 21(8): 1155‒1165.

Keane, M. 2016. Coaching interventions for postgraduate supervision courses: Promoting equity and understanding in the supervisor–student relationship. South African Journal of Higher Education 30(6): 94‒111.

Khene, C. P. 2014. Supporting a humanizing pedagogy in the supervision relationship and process: A reflection in a developing country. International Journal of Doctoral Studies 9: 73‒83.

Lee, A. M. 2007. Developing effective supervisors: Concepts of research supervision. South African Journal of Higher Education 21(4): 680‒693.

Lindén, J., M. Ohlin and E. M. Brodin. 2013. Mentorship, supervision and learning experience in PhD education. Studies in Higher Education 38(5): 639‒662.

Maistry, S. M. 2017. Betwixt and between: Liminality and dissonance in developing threshold competences for research supervision in South Africa. South African Journal of Higher Education 31(1): 119‒134.

Manathunga, C. and J. Goozee. 2007. Challenging the dual assumption of the “always/already” autonomous student and effective supervisor. Teaching in Higher Education 12(3): 309‒322.

McCabe, R. M. 2011. An academic literacy course: Making choices. Journal for Language Teaching 45: 47‒67.

McCulloch, A. and C. Loeser. 2016. Does research degree supervisor training work? The impact of a professional development induction workshop on supervision practice. Higher Education Research and Development 35(5): 968‒982.

McKenna, S. 2016. Crossing conceptual thresholds in doctoral communities. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 54: 458‒466.

Morrow, W. 2009. Bounds of democracy: Epistemological access in higher education. Pretoria: HSRC Press.

Ndlangamandla, S. C. 2017. “I was not to forget that my reader comes from another world”: An academic literacies perspective on shuttling between the workplace and the academy. Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning 5(1): 51‒68.

O’Neil, S. M. 2018. On becoming a better supervisor: A deconstruction of auto ethnography as method for professional development. South African Journal of Higher Education 32: 483‒501.

Orellana, M., L. Darder, A. Pérez and J. Salinas. 2016. Improving doctoral success by matching PhD students with supervisors. International Journal of Doctoral Studies 11: 87‒103.

Picard, M. Y., K. Wilkinson and M. Wirthensohn. 2011. An online learning space facilitating supervision pedagogies in science. South African Journal of Higher Education 25(5): 954‒971.

Pyhältö, K., J. Vekkaila and J. Keskinen. 2015. Fit matters in the supervisory relationship: Doctoral students and supervisors perceptions about the supervisory activities. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 52(1): 4‒16.

Reeve, M. A. and M. Partridge. 2017. The use of social media to combat research-isolation. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 110(5): 449‒456.

Schulze, S. 2011. A survey of students’ views of supervision at Unisa. South African Journal of Higher Education 25(4): 784‒802.

Sebolai, K. 2014. Evaluating academic literacy teaching at a South African university: A case study of an academic literacy programme. Journal for Language Teaching 48(1): 51‒69.

Singh, R. J. 2015. Challenges and successes of research capacity building at a rural South African university. South African Journal of Higher Education 29(3): 183‒200.

Sonn, R. 2016. The challenge for a historically disadvantaged South African university to produce more postgraduate students. South African Journal of Higher Education 30(2): 226‒241.

Tangen, J. L., L. D. Borders and M. J. Fickling. 2019. The supervision guide: Informed by theory, ready for practice. International Journal for the Advancement of Counselling 41(2): 240‒251.

Tapp, J. 2015. Framing the curriculum for participation: A Bernsteinian perspective on academic literacies. Teaching in Higher Education 20(7): 711‒722.

Turner, G. 2015. Learning to supervise: Four journeys. Innovations in Education and Teaching International 52(1): 86‒98.

Urquhart, S. M., M. A. Maher, D. F. Feldon and J. Gilmore. 2016. Factors associated with novice graduate student researchers’ engagement with primary literature. International Journal for Researcher Development 7(2): 141‒158.

Van Biljon, J. A. and E. De Kock. 2011. Multiplicity in supervision relationships: A factor in improving throughput success? South African Journal of Higher Education 25(5): 987‒1002.

Van Biljon, J. A. and M. R. De Villiers. 2013. Multiplicity in supervision models: The supervisor’s perspective. South African Journal of Higher Education 27(6): 1443‒1463.

Vereijken, M. W. C., R. M. Van Der Rijst, J. H. Van Driel and F. W. Dekker. 2018. Novice supervisors’ practices and dilemmatic space in supervision of student research projects. Teaching in Higher Education 23(4): 522‒542.

Waghid, Y. 2015. Are doctoral studies in South African higher education being put at risk? South African Journal of Higher Education 29(5): 1‒7.

Webster, V. and M. Webster. 2014. The difference between coaching and mentoring. https://www.leadershipthoughts.com/difference-between-coaching-and-mentoring/ (Accessed 15 April 2019).

Wheelahan, L. 2010. Why knowledge matters in the curriculum: A social realist argument. New York: Routledge.

Wiggins, S., C. Sullivan, S. Becker and A. Gordon-Finlayson. 2015. Qualitative undergraduate dissertation supervision in psychology: Current practice, needs and support for supervisors. Paper presented to: British Psychological Society (BPS) Qualitative Methods in Psychology Section Annual Conference 2015. Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, 02‒04 September 2015.

Wilkinson, A. C. 2011. Postgraduate supervision as an advanced teaching and learning practice: Exploring the scholarship link South African Journal of Higher Education 25(5): 902‒920.

Winberg, C., N. Ntloko and T. Ncubukezi. 2015. “Don’t leave before you understand”: Supporting masters candidates in business studies. Critical Studies in Teaching and Learning 3(1): 1‒20.

Wood, L. and I. Louw. 2018. Reconsidering postgraduate “supervision” from a participatory action learning and action research approach. South African Journal of Higher Education 32(4): 284‒297.




DOI: https://doi.org/10.20853/34-2-3565

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


eISSN: 1753-5913

Copyright © 2016 South African Journal of Higher Education

Hosted by Stellenbosch University Library and Information Service since 2016.

Creative Commons License -CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Disclaimer:
This journal is hosted by the SU LIS on request of the journal owner/editor. The SU LIS takes no responsibility for the content published within this journal, and disclaim all liability arising out of the use of or inability to use the information contained herein. We assume no responsibility, and shall not be liable for any breaches of agreement with other publishers/hosts.