22 SES 10 A, Teaching, Learning and Assessment in Higher Education
The overall aim of the project is to study the learning situation that supervision of independent projects constitutes, by describing, analyzing and comparing what is done, how it is done and when it is done. This issue is clearly understudied. Very few European empirical studies include supervision on the undergraduate level such as supervision of independent projects. In this paper we present results from two sub-studies. The participants in these studies are undergraduate students doing their 10-week independent projects in the end of their education, and their supervisors. In the first the sub-study, interactional patterns are investigated in different modes of supervision, i.e. supervision meetings, email conversations and written comments on student texts, and complemented with interviews geared at illuminating the participants’ understandings of the interaction. In the second the sub-study, we study how supervision of independent projects can be implemented in different ways depending on whether the education has a scholarship or artistic practice focus.
In recent years the independent project has advanced its position both structurally and quantitatively in Swedish higher education. Firstly, the independent project has become an important tool in quality assessment of higher education, and secondly, more students than ever before write independent projects, thus involving more academic staff in the practice of supervision. Despite this, few supervisors have received a specific university teacher training in supervision.
Supervision is a key factor for a successful independent project (Zuber-Skerrit & Ryan 1994; Deem & Brehony 2000), and thus this learning situation ought to be examined empirically. We use the term ‘supervision practice’ to emphasize that we recognize supervision to comprise several kinds of interaction.
The project concerns several academic areas such as pedagogy, higher education, supervision, and academic writing. However the overall framework of our study is the socio-cultural perspective which link theories concerning learning, language, context and dialogism together (see e.g. Säljö 2000; Vygotskij 2001; Blåsjö 2004).Theoretically, our perspective is linguistic and interactional since the object of study is the micro-level of communication – what is actually said and done, how, and when, in the supervision practice.
Our overall research questions are:
- Which interactional patterns are distinguished in the different modes of supervision?
- How do these interactional patterns differ between the modes of supervision?
- How are these interactional patterns described and understood by supervisor and student?
- How do the supervision differ between study programs based on scholarship and study programs based on artistic practice?
This study aims to fill gaps in the knowledge and research about supervision of independent projects, and thus contribute to the development of the quality of both students’ independent projects and teachers’ profession in the form of supervision. Many students complete parts of their education in diffrent European countries. Therefore, we consider it important to study and discuss the supervision of students' independent projects in a European perspective.
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