22 SES 13 A, Support, Supervision and Critical Thinking
How can we understand the educativein educational processes in higher education? This fundamental pedagogical question can be posed as an empirical, theoretical and didactical question.This question has been the central line of interest in my doctoral research project on the educational practice of supervision of master students working on their masters. I have explored the question both empirically and theoretically in the research process, using “educative process” as a sensitizing concept(Blumer 1954) in a dialectic process between theory and field, and I have made the supervision conversationthe focus for my empirical and theoretical work. This paper presents one of the findings in my doctoral research work; participation in academic judgment processes.
Education concerns both the cultivation of the individual and the community. It is understood as processes that have a course without a definite time horizon. Education extends teaching and learning events and processes that take place “here and now”. In educational practices we start or spark processes that we cannot fully predict or prescribe the result of (Hoveid 2018).
The institutionalisation of educational practices typically involves demarcations in time. It identifies the process with a definite starting point, intervals and especially end points. Educational institutions set formal objectives and prescribe formats for the educational practices.
To ask for the educative is to problematize what connects the here and now of an educational practice with the life-long processes. This area remains a blind area if we do not open it up for investigation, discussion and theorising. This question, about the educative, is sometimes answered with reference to the purpose of an educational process, sometimes with evidence from the effect of teaching and learning, and sometimes with a list of evaluation criteria. It is seldom answered with a deliberation of what I have called “the blind area”. Posing the question about the educative is not a question of whatyou do, northe purposeof what you do, but rather of (what the rap group Salt’n’Pepa quite straight forward conceptualises in the song Shoopfrom 1993 as) what you do when you do what you do.
Central to the notion of the educative that I develop in my thesis is the idea of the pedagogical meetingas the educational “molecule”. The meeting is constituted by participation. Alfred Schütz’ (1982) and Erwing Goffman’s (1963, 2005) conceptualisations of social situations forms a theoretical starting point for establishing a conceptualisation of the supervision roomconstituted in the pedagogical meeting. The supervision room is a room of potential for educative processes.
Purpose or end is of course fundamentally connected to the educative processes. The educational purpose that is most prominent, both in formal curriculum, in supervision events as well as in the pedagogical theory on higher education, is the formation of the scholar, an autonomous person who studies and is knowledgeable in an academic subject. Even if, in the field of higher education, this purpose is more often hidden in managerial language and quality criteria, it is still evident as the main purpose for master education. In the supervision room both the supervisor’s and the student’s scholarly formation is in play. Given the formation of the scholar as the educational end, the question is how what goes on in master supervision contributes to this.
I have conducted a case study of two master student and supervisor-couples at two different departments at one Norwegian university. The main material is video observations of supervision conversations. This is supported and triangulated by video recorded interviews with students and supervisors, fieldwork and institutional documents / formal curriculum. I have used video to document the supervision conversations because of its ability to reproduce some of the complex and implicit aspects of interaction, as well as the potential for doing multiple analyses that involve multiple researchers and strategies. There is also a potential in the material when analytically and critically working with open ended definitions and redefinitions. The video analysis approach is funded in videography, the way this is coined by Knoblauch et al. (2006), as an interpretative video analysis methodology directed at “naturally occurring” situated social interaction in everyday life. Videography in this sense, builds on ethnography and hermeneutics. I have used the concept of “educative process” as a sensitizing tool, and with sensitizing conceptual clusters, in a hermeneutic process of empirical interpretation and of theorizing. Sensitizing concepts are productive tools for exploring processes and dynamic phenomena, of which the meaning never can be set once and for all, that are not easy or possible to define or factorise. The empirical analyses function as resources in the theorizing work. The purpose has been to re-conceptualize supervision in pedagogical terms that can open up possible understandings of complex and diverse practices, rather than defining them in dominant terms (from bureaucratic managerial language). Educational practice as institutionalised social interaction (Berger and Luckmann 1966) focuses on “what people actually do” as part of their professional everyday life. Educational practice is situative and situational, and is not only constituted by the properties and limitations of this isolated sequence of interaction at hand, but also draws upon the habitual structures of this “genre” of interaction, as well as the knowledge of the world beyond the situation, made relevant and used as resources by the actors in the interaction (Goffman 1963, 2005 and Schütz 1962).
My research project has explored the ways the pedagogical room in master supervision creates a potential for the formation of the scholar. In this paper I present one of the main educative processes I identified in my material contributing to this end; participation in academic judgement processes. I have explored three areas that are in play and negotiated in the academic judgement processes in supervision conversations: 1) Opening up what is considered meaningful and significant conceptions and connections 2) Confirming the master student’s deliberations 3) Acknowledging originality, interest and importance In the empirical material we can see these processes unfolding in the conversations involving the student and the supervisor. When investigating these areas, it is evident that the supervision room gives a unique arena for participating in these types of educative processes. Both student and supervisor need to involve themselves as participants. The ways and modes of participation are in flux, and is negotiated and developed in interaction.
Berger, Peter L and Luckmann, Thomas (1966), The social construction of reality: A treatise in the sociology of knowledge, New York: Anchor. Blumer, Herbert (1954), 'What is wrong with social theory?', American sociological review, 19 (1), 3-10 Goffman, Erving (1963), Behavior in public places: notes on the social organization of gatherings (New York: Free Press) Goffman, Erving (2005), Interaction ritual: essays in face-to-face behavior (New Brunswick, N.J.: Aldine Transaction) Hoveid, Marit Honerød et al. (eds.) (2018), Undervisning som veiledning (Oslo: Cappelen Damm akademisk) Hubert Knoblauch, et al. (eds.) (2006), Video analysis. Methodology and methods. Qualitative audiovisual data analysis in sociology (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang) Schütz, Alfred (1962), Collected Papers I: The Problem of Social Reality (Doodrect: Kluwer)
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