All posts by Joel Deshaye

Writing a Syllabus for Graduate Supervision


If you’re like most university teachers, you spend some time before each term writing a syllabus or outline for each of your courses. But if you are also a supervisor or advisor of graduate students, you probably don’t have an equivalent document to set expectations and communicate them to your supervisees. Why not? Continue reading Writing a Syllabus for Graduate Supervision

Balancing the Roles of Supervisor, Mentor, and Friend


Mentor. The word itself was originally a name—the name of an advisor in Homer’s epic poem The Odyssey who was impersonated by the goddess Athena. The term’s mythical connotations are all but gone now, but it still describes an advisor and teacher.

But we have another term for that in graduate education at many universities: supervisor. The difference is that supervisors usually focus on helping students along the path toward graduation. Mentors make time to guide some of their students in other aspects of their lives. Continue reading Balancing the Roles of Supervisor, Mentor, and Friend

Communications and Expectations in Graduate Supervision


During my graduate education, I had two great supervisors and never any problems with communicating our mutual expectations. Their PhDs in English literature certainly helped. But a PhD of any kind is no guarantee that communication will be good enough to prevent misunderstandings.

Although professors are often intelligent and articulate, their attention to communication is often directed outward instead of inward. They are busy experts called upon for critical opinions; they speak and people take note. And students who feel overwhelmed by the quantity of information they receive, and the high expectations of graduate education, sometimes stop listening so they can manage the stress. That’s a form of communication too—but not one that serves both sides. Continue reading Communications and Expectations in Graduate Supervision