22 SES 04 B, Teaching, Learning and Assesment in Higher Education
After doctoral education as the third cycle was introduced to the Bologna Process in Berlin in 2003, questions of developing the pedagogy of doctoral education have become increasingly important. In the Finnish context, students finishing their Ph. D’s no longer typically go on to become professional researchers. The amount and heterogeneity of Ph.D students have also grown. This has created a need to further analyze the qualities and skills which Ph.D students are expected to learn during their studies. There is also a need to make the educational processes and pedagogical means used in doctoral education more effective. The role of the supervisor is important in facilitating and directing the learning processes. In this paper, we study the role of the supervisor in terms of tensions reported by the supervisors as well as the inconsistent expectations which doctoral students have.
Lee (2008), based on supervisor interviews from a range of disciplines identified five concepts of doctoral research supervision: functional -where issue is one of project management; enculturation - where the student is encouraged to become a member of the disciplinary community; critical thinking - where the student is encouraged to question and analyze their work; emancipation - where the student is encouraged to question and develop themselves; and developing a quality relationship - where the student in enthused, inspired and cared for. According to Lee (2008) the supervisors are also trying to reconcile the tensions between their Professional role as an academic and their personal self, as well as encouraging students to move along a path towards increasing independence. Further Gouzouasis & Lee (2009) highlight, that it is important that the supervisor provides emotional support for graduate students during their academic studies.
Supervising doctoral research is often seen from an individualistic point of view. However, socio-constructivist pedagogical thinking has called attention to the benefits of social support or collaboration to one’s learning process. Often doctoral students do their research as a part of a research group. The individualistic approach can be detected even in Lee’s (2008) concepts of supervision and tensions. A complementary view on the supervisors’ roles and the tensions they face can be acquired from the perspective of tutoring learning groups. For example, according to Barab, Barnett & Squire (2002) a tutor is required to be a facilitator of group processes and their evaluator at the same time. Brown (2000) refers to the tension of between being a group member (in the context of doctoral education this can be conceived, for example, as a member of research group) and an authority figure at the same time. In addition, a traditional tension in tutoring small task groups is the one balancing between the emotional climate and task orientation. Stokes (2003) refers to another possible tension which refers to balancing between active directing of the processes of a group and a more passive approach. As can be seen, similar tensions can be found in both supervising individual processes as well as group supervision, but the emphasis is slightly different.
Barab, Barnett & Squire (2002), Developing an empirical account of a community of practice: characterizing the essential tensions, The journal of the learning sciences 11 (4), 489-542. Brown, R. (2000) Group processes. 2nd ed. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. Gouzouasis, P. & Lee, K.V. (2009). The cage: stuff, tunes and tales. Reflective practice 10 (2), 173-178. Lee, A. (2008). How are doctoral students supervised? Concepts of doctoral research supervision. Studies in Higher Education 33 (3), 267-281. Stokes, P. (2003). Exploring the relationship between mentoring and counseling. British journal of guidance and counseling 31 (1), 25-38.
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