Supervision

Supervision involves a dialogue between the supervisor and the student. Your role as a supervisor is primarily to listen and take part in a communication process during which the student gains greater insight into the topic concerned. Supervisors can use open-ended questions as a tool for strengthening the supervision process by guiding the student towards greater insight. Supervision is based on cooperation between the supervisor and the student, so you must adjust your role to suit the student’s needs.

Supervision with the student in focus

Supervision is a dialogue-based communication process in which the student is in focus. Dialogue and listening form the point of departure, and none of the parties involved should be overly insistent or dominating. Your most important role as a supervisor is to establish an atmosphere of trust and hope as the basis for supervision, helping the student to develop the ability to independently deal with obstacles occurring on the path leading towards their goals.

The most important aspect of supervision is cooperation

The supervision process is based on cooperation between the supervisor and the student. Your role as a supervisor is to monitor how the student gains understanding and to increase your insight into the student’s situation by identifying specific objectives, as well as helping to draw up a suitable plan for the process. In the supervision process, it is vital that opinions, ideas, perspectives and experiences are articulated and critically assessed jointly by the supervisor and the student.

Supervision can involve various methods depending on the student’s needs:

  • Product supervision is based on something produced by the student which has to be discussed with the supervisor, with the supervisor giving feedback. This type of supervision focuses on a specific issue and is initiated by the student.
  • Ad hoc supervision is used when a problem arises in the student’s work which requires urgent supervision. This type of supervision also focuses on a specific issue and is initiated by the student.
  • Process supervision is used to get students to develop their thoughts on a topic while they are writing. Process supervision therefore contradicts the idea that the student should only write down finished ideas.

The supervisor’s most important tool? Questions

Your questions should be open-ended to prevent your supervision feeling like an interrogation. In this way you can give the student the chance to see things from a different perspective and to discover patterns and connections between different aspects. Supervisors can achieve a better result by choosing to ask questions which challenge the student, but you should be aware that the student might switch off if the pressure becomes too great. The act of listening is often very important for teachers because it creates contact and often forms the foundation for giving the student the energy needed to solve problems.    

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