Gina Wisker

  • Supporting Postgraduate Student Learning through Supervisory Practices

    Gina Wisker, Anglia Polytechnic University, UK

    Most research and publication which deals with the scholarship of teaching focuses on the teaching of undergraduates (Trigwell and Prosser) utilising research into the links between student learning, curriculum development and student centered teaching practices (Meyer & Shanahan).

    Action research with supervisors and PhD students at APU contributes new knowledge about the 'teaching' practices of supervisors which enable and empower postgraduates as learners.

    This action research is in 2 parts related to research support programme development which runs parallel. It:

    1. Focuses on and develops supervisory dialogues as a major teaching vehicle (Wisker, Robinson, Trafford 2003, 2000 ) and
    2. Builds on 1 with the development of a largely online support programme and academic community using e-moderation aimed at enhancing the skills of sharing good practice between supervisors. This sharing aims to support their work in supervising postgraduates to successful outcomes. Our action research builds on the findings and work of Pearson, Cargill, Brew, Murray, Cryer, Delmont and Eggleston et al.

    Its main findings and research informed suggestions for good practice include strategies founded on:

    • Enhancing the supervisory dialogue as an interaction which empowers and enables postgraduate learning and achievement of doctoral outcomes
    • Enhancing the support and development of supervisory practices through online programmes and exchange of good practice situations and scenarios in context
    • Enhancing supervisor skills in working with the stages of PhD work including
      • Developing conceptual frameworks and methods
      • Commenting on work to encourage critical thinking
      • Using email and other distance learning practices effectively
      • Encouraging the organisation and writing of a coherent thesis
      • Enabling students to articulate arguments in a viva
      • Supporting further work after the viva

    This paper should be of interest to anyone

    • Working with postgraduates
    • Supervising postgraduates
    • Working in a research culture