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Is supervision about teaching or research?

In fact, it’s both!

Studies in supervision practice have found a connection between a mentor-model of supervision and better research outcomes.  On the surface, the investment in time and energy into new supervisees may seem like a one-directional cost for many supervisors.  However, some supervision research has shown that the original investment into teaching students about good research techniques pays off in the end.

Considering that most masters student-supervisor relationships is 2 years, and doctoral student-supervisor relationships can be up to 6 or 7 years; by tackling the skills and knowledge required to do quality research from the get-go, supervisors optimize the time that they have with their supervisees, and supervisees in return, learn important skills that will help their own research progress.  They learn from the starting gate how to balance the multiple needs of being a student (research assistant, teaching assistant and life/research balance) from the only person who is in a position to do so most effectively – and the person who stands to benefit the most (besides the student, of course).

Graduate Supervision

Supervision in many ways is under-estimated by both supervisor and supervisee which often leads to unrealistic expectations and disappointments.  Supervision research has shown that the lack  of explicit expectations can cause long term problems for both parties, which can be avoided by implementing some strategies to clarify expectations. The University has been working to build more resources to facilitate this discussion and successful relationships. Training for Graduate Program Directors and Department Chairs is one good example. The Graduate Supervision website is another. For an interesting look into the relationship between success and clarifying expectations, supervisors can find and read the resources here.

For more information on the one-on-one experience, Teaching and Learning Services is offering the workshop: Clarifying Expectations in Graduate Supervision (GPS 409) on November 13, at 10:00am.  Imagine preventing common mistakes and avoiding confusion when taking on new graduate students. Clarifying Expectations is about articulating roles and responsibilities in supervisory relationships before problems or miscommunications occur. In this workshop, we will discuss existing supervisory agreements, work together to set the goals and outcomes, and focus on writing an agreement that suits everyone’s needs.

This session is part of a series designed to look closely into the supervision relationship and provide knowledge and support to supervisors, both new and experienced. We look forward to seeing you there!

(Lisa Travis and David Syncox contributed to this post.)

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