Supervision seminar for lecturers

Subject: The Master’s degree programme in Philosophy of Education. Course: Educational Anthropology and Educational Sociology. Study level: Master's degree. Class size: 50-100.

The aim of the activity

During the supervision seminar the objective is partly to tell the supervisors about the students' perspectives on the supervision, and partly to open up for a discussion of some of the contradictory expectations that exist.

The supervision seminar deals with how the lecturers can meet the students, and in which areas the students need to accept that there are conditions associated with an academic education that can be frustrating. The supervision seminar also introduces new supervisors to the current practice on the degree programme.

Description of the activity

We have produced a film about supervision based on two focus group interviews with students and supervisors. The film shows that there are different expectations of supervision, different practices in the supervision situation, and that different views of self-development exist between lecturers and students. The film forms the basis for the discussion.

In addition, we have

  • designed and printed the brochure Guidelines on supervision, which describes all the written rules and guidelines on supervision
  • drawn-up a list of good advice to students, which can be used for the supervision activities described below.

Supervision seminar for lecturers

  • All lecturers are invited to a seminar day. It is a good idea both to ask the head of department and director of studies to participate and to send out the invitations. It can be combined with an ordinary staff meeting to ensure high attendance and so the lecturers have a reduced number of days with meetings. The director of studies is the chairperson.
  • The students' perspectives on the guidelines are presented with special focus on the unwritten rules, cultures and discourses that the students experience. In this way the supervisors receive an insight into the different student types and their different needs in the supervision process. 
  • The film is shown in its entirety
  • The supervisors discuss how they can accommodate the students without compromising their own views on self-development and freedom of method.
  • Conclusion. The participants are urged to take the day’s discussions up again in the individual teams or groups of lecturers.

Discussion about supervision

Depending on the number of participants, you can choose to start the discussion in smaller groups and then sum up in plenum - or you can open the discussion in plenum from the start. Here are some of the questions that can be discussed:

  • The general guidelines and framework in the Guidelines on supervision brochure are implemented in many different ways in practice, which is something the students see as a problem. How do we understand the framework and function of supervision? And how can we promote the sharing of experience and developments in the field of supervision?
  • There is a group of students who will readily receive supervision but who, for various reasons, do not receive it. How can we better ensure that this group of students receive supervision?
  • There is untapped potential in providing a more systematic response to exam assignments. How can we develop response techniques and ensure that all students are offered response to their work, within the timeframes that we have?
  • Evaluations of the study programmes indicates that training courses and study group activities in connection with the teaching, combined with targeted types of exam, play a positive role in the benefit that the students get from the degree programme. How can we appropriately develop such activities and initiatives?

Outcome of the activity

30 supervisors attended our seminar. The supervisors said that it was interesting to hear the students’ perspectives on supervision. There was a lively and engaged discussion of the questions asked. Following the supervisor seminar we have been contacted by several new assistant professors who are in doubt about the supervision framework. This suggests that there is a need for this topic to be raised and discussed regularly.

Supervision without film

You can quite easily carry out the activity without showing a film. If you wish to use film in the same way as described in the activity, I would recommend that you make a film with your own lecturers and students, as there is a big difference between the degree programmes, supervision culture and the types of student.

Contributor

Tilde Mette Juul, Center for Ungdomsforskning, Department of Learning and Philosophy, University of Aalborg

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