It is the role of the supervisor to support students in their research. Shadforth and Harvey (2004) distinguish between ‘subject-centred’ and ‘student-centred’ supervision style. They also stress the importance of student reflection and state that the predominant ‘subject-centred’ style leaves little room for staff or student continuing professional development. This presentation introduces a student-centred supervision approach that encourages students to develop as independent learners, while simultaneously providing support and structure for a successful, timely completion.
In this pilot study (2 supervisors and 9 final year students) all supervisory meetings were concluded by producing audio recordings of students summarizing the discussion. The recordings were emailed to the students who were instructed to write and return a short reflection to the supervisor. After the completion of their research projects, students were invited to take part in a focus group which was facilitated by a member of staff outside the department. Focus group transcripts were analysed using a thematic approach (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Ethics permission for this study was granted by the University’s ethics committee.
The results show that students found the audio summaries extremely useful. Having to do the summary ensured that they stayed engaged and focused during the meetings. The recordings helped them understand and remember the issues discussed and encouraged them to take ownership of their project. There was general agreement that a verbal meeting summary was particularly useful and that a written summary would not have had the same benefits. Willingness and ability to reflect, however, were patchy, indicating that students may need more training in the skills of reflection earlier on in their studies.
In conclusion, the meeting recordings were popular and useful for both, staff and students. They were also easy to implement without being time consuming. The recordings provided a support framework that helped students gain confidence during their project. We believe that the recordings could be useful for many disciplines where undergraduate research projects are being used.
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Shadforth, T., & Harvey, B. (2004) The undergraduate dissertation: Subject-centred or student-centred? Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, 2, 145-152.
Wisker, G. (2012) The good supervisor. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan.
Woolhouse, M. (2002) Supervising dissertation projects: Expectations of supervisors and students Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 39, 137-144.