22 SES 11 D, Teaching of Research Skills and Attitudes
This presentation explores the practice and ethics of research supervision in higher education. It draws upon a range of conceptual resources, from socio-linguistics (the area in which the second author’s PhD study is located) to philosophy of education and education policy studies, which are related to the first author’s interests. This contribution has emerged from the lived experience of the authors, who find themselves cast in the roles of Director of Studies (Pirrie) and PhD student (Necib). The presentation will take the form of a dialogue, in order to achieve a degree of consonance between the mode and substance of the presentation.
The specific theme of research supervision is considered in the broader context of the resurgence of interest in the purpose and ethos of the university in a climate increasingly dominated by the business model of higher education (Collini, 2012; 2017; Warner, 2014; 2015; Williams, 2016; Reclaiming Our University, 2016; Pirrie, 2018). The rapid growth of the ‘internationalisation agenda’ over the last decade is one manifestation of the marketization of higher education in the UK and across Europe. In the UK, considerable energy and resources are now devoted to securing lucrative arrangements to provide educational opportunities for international students in an attempt to make up for a substantial shortfall in government funding. As De Vita and Case (2003: 383) point out, the internationalisation agenda has been redefined in ‘commercially expedient terms’. This has resulted in a shift in the terms of reference from considerations of inclusion and exclusion in the context of research supervision in higher education. In this presentation, the conference theme is explored with particular reference to the experience of an international student studying in a UK higher education institution.
The presentation will explore the impact of these developments on the prospects for genuine dialogue and intercultural exchange, in a manner that foregrounds both of these elements. Stephen Ball (2015: 258) distinguishes between ‘the big-neo-liberalism, “out there” in the economy’ and the ‘little-neo- liberalism, “in here” in our daily lives and in our heads’. The former operates within what we now call the ‘knowledge economy and informational capitalism’, which forms the contextual backdrop for this study. The latter ‘is realised in a set of local practices that ‘articulates the mundane rhythms of our email traffic, our form-filling … and re-modulates the ways in which we relate to one another as neo-liberal subjects, individual, responsible, striving, competitive, enterprising’ (Ball, 2015: 258: see also Ball, 2003) (our emphasis). We shall explore the potentially corrosive effects of the ‘little-neo-liberalism’ on the supervisory relationship, drawing on previous work in this area (Deuchar, 2008; Halse, 2011; Halse and Malfroy, 2010; Elliot, Reid and Baumfield, 2016a; Elliot et al, 2016; Elliot, Baumfield and Reid, 2016). What distinguishes this study from others is the emphasis on the dialogic relation rather than on the identification of a range of supervisory ‘styles’. We believe that the latter approach implies a deterministic bias and systematically underplays the role of the micro-dynamics of social interaction (Rafanell, 2013) as constitutive of a productive, enjoyable and life-enhancing interpersonal relationship. The latter has greater potential than over-reliance institutional fixes based on monitoring and surveillance to bring about cultural change at the institutional level.
This is a qualitative study that proceeds from a review of the literature on research supervision in the current context. The contribution is innovative, in that it brings to bear dimensions of a PhD student’s area of substantive inquiry upon a study of the dynamics of research supervision. Necib’s work is on interactional competence in ESL in the Algerian university sector. The dynamics of PhD supervision will be regarded as a particular manifestation of interactional competence. This presentation will focus on the findings of the literature review, and the authors’ experience of the supervisory relationship. The latter is the embodiment of a view of education, where the emphasis is on ‘leading life, with others’ rather than transmission of knowledge (Ingold, 2018) and the process of ‘acculturation’ (Elliot, Reid and Baumfield, 2016). As we shall demonstrate, the very notion of ‘acculturation’, defined as ‘the learning of appropriate behaviour in a new culture’ (He, 2002: 323) suggests an impoverished notion of inclusion, in so far as the ‘new culture’ remains relatively untouched. This may be indicative of the deterministic bias inherent in over-reliance on a theoretical framework derived from bio-ecological systems approaches (Elliot, Baumfield and Reid, 2016). It also indicates a tacit endorsement of the traditional view of education as transmission. The analytical framework will be devised with reference to theories of interactional competence, drawing upon Necib’s PhD study. We conceive inclusion and exclusion as two facets of the same coin, constantly in interaction with each other. By the same token (no pun intended), the focus on interactional dimensions of research supervision foregrounds the micro-situational foundations of social structure. It also indicates that inclusion and exclusion are mutually interdependent states rather than polarities. This is a necessary corrective to the prevailing view of the neo-liberal subject as individual, responsible, striving, competitive, enterprising, and either included or excluded. We argue for a vision of research supervision in which vulnerability, care and co-operation are the core values of ethical practice. The collaboration between a PhD student and supervisor that reflects, extends and enriches the interests of both parties is indicative of the mainstreaming of the conference theme of inclusion/exclusion. It also constitutes a joyful act of resistance against institutional practices that militate against the cultivation of dialogic approaches to research supervision. We believe these have the capacity to enrich both the quality of the research environment, and the lives of individual researchers.
The findings from this study will be used to inform discussions of the nature of supervisory practice in the authors’ institution. To this end they will be disseminated to colleagues and fellow students through a contribution to the departmental seminar series. This will pave the way for highlighting the implications of our findings for policy and practice in our home institution, and in the wider context of higher education. We expect that the outcome of the study will also foster discussion and debate among the growing community of international students in our institution. It will also add value to Necib’s small-scale study of the challenges faced by international students at UWS when conducting fieldwork in their country of origin (Necib, 2017). We shall seek out opportunities to disseminate our findings to international students in a range of HEIs and on a variety of social media platforms concerned with the future of HE.
Ball, S. J. (2003) ‘The teacher’s soul and the terrors of performativity’, Journal of Education Policy, 18 (2): 215-228. Ball, S. J. (2015) ‘Living in the neo-liberal university’, European Journal of Education, 50, (3) 258-261. Collini, S. (2012) What are Universities For? London: Penguin Books. Collini, S. (2017) Speaking of Universities. London: Verso. Deuchar, R. (2008) Facilitator, director or critical friend: contradiction and congruence in doctoral supervision styles, Teaching in Higher Education, 13 (4) pp. 489-500. De Vita, G. and Case, R. (2003) Rethinking the internationalisation agenda in UK higher education, Journal of Further and Higher Education, 27 (4) pp. 383-398. Elliot, D.L., Reid, K. and Baumfield, V. (2016) Beyond the amusement, puzzlement and challenges: an inquiry into international students’ academic acculturation, Studies in Higher Education, 41 (12), pp. 2198-2217. Elliot, D.L., Baumfield, V., Reid, K. and Makara, K.A. (2016) Hidden treasure: successful international doctoral students who found and harnessed the hidden curriculum, Oxford Review of Education, 42 (6) pp. 733-748. Elliot, D.L., Baumfield, V. and Reid, K. (2016) Searching for a ‘third space’: a creative pathway towards international PhD students’ academic acculturation, Higher Education Research and Development, 35 (6) pp. 1180-1195. Halse, C. (2011) Becoming a supervisor: the impact of doctoral supervision on supervisors’ learning, Studies in Higher Education, 36 (5) pp. 557-570. Halse, C. and Malfroy, J. (2010) Retheorizing doctoral supervision as professional work, Studies in Higher Education, 35 (1) pp. 79-92. He, M.F. (2002) A narrative inquiry of cross-cultural lives: lives in Canada, Journal of Curriculum Studies, 34 (3) pp. 323-342. Ingold, T. (2016) Reclaiming Our University. The Manifesto. https://reclaimingouruniversity.files.wordpress.com/2016/10/reclaiming-manifestofinal.pdf Ingold, T. (2018) Anthropology and/as Education. London: Routledge. Merriman, A. (2017) The Amateur. The Pleasures of Doing What You Love. London and New York: Verso. Necib, S.E. (2017) ‘Working backstage: challenges of data collection in the Algerian Higher Education context. Presentation at the annual conference of the Scottish Educational Research Association (SERA) Ayr, 22nd November. Pirrie, A. (2018) Virtue and the Quiet Art of Scholarship: Reclaiming the University. London: Routledge (forthcoming) Rafanell, I. (2013) Micro-situational foundations of social structure: an interactionist exploration of affective sanctioning, Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 43, pp. 181-204. Vostal, F. (2016) Accelerating Academia: The Changing Structure of Academic Time. London: Palgrave. Williams, J. (2016) Academic Freedom in an Age of Conformity. Confronting the Fear of Knowledge. London: Palgrave Macmillan.
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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