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What was your supervisor like? How can we create a mechanism for getting feedback on postgraduate research supervision?

Christina Ballantyne
Murdoch University
Collecting feedback from postgraduate research students has been a contentious issue in Australian universities in recent years. The introduction of the Postgraduate Research Experience Questionnaire (PREQ) has come in for widespread criticism across the sector particularly for its lack of ability to provide information which might lead to the improvement of supervision for postgraduate research students.

Over the last year, Murdoch University has undertaken three surveys of different groups of postgraduate research students - those still enrolled, those who have graduated and those who are no longer enrolled but have not completed their degrees. A number of different aspects of postgraduate research study were examined - research ambience, support for research activities, intellectual freedom, professional development, educational objectives, etc. The three studies provided a wealth of information but the issue of feedback on supervision was dealt with in a fairly general way, with no real attempt to provide information to individual supervisors to help them improve.

The issue is twofold; on the one hand supervision of postgraduate research students is a large part of academic work and staff have indicated the need for an instrument which not only allows them to improve their supervision practice but also can be used for promotion in the way they do with student surveys of coursework units. On the other hand, the close one-on-one nature of postgraduate research supervision inhibits students from providing candid feedback on a relationship which does not end when the thesis is submitted. The dilemma here is how can we devise a mechanism that will allow the collection of information which serves the needs of both staff and students.

Author: Christina Ballantyne, Project Officer, Teaching and Learning Centre, Murdoch University

Presentation format: Dilemmas in teaching or teaching/learning research

Please cite as: Ballantyne, C. (2002). What was your supervisor like? How can we create a mechanism for getting feedback on postgraduate research supervision? In Focusing on the Student. Proceedings of the 11th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 5-6 February 2002. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2002/abstracts/ballantyne-abs.html

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Created 1 Dec 2001. Last revision: 31 Jan 2002. HTML: Roger Atkinson [ rjatkinson@bigpond.com ]