Developing a framework for high quality supervision in doctoral education

Sisson, Kelly and Crawford, Karin (2016) Developing a framework for high quality supervision in doctoral education. In: UK Council for Graduate Education: Achieving excellence in Masters and Doctoral Education, 3 - 5 July 2016, Liverpool Town Hall.

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Item Type:Conference or Workshop contribution (Presentation)
Item Status:Live Archive


As part of a wide scale review of postgraduate research regulations and processes at the University of Lincoln, work began in 2014-15 to develop a new framework for the professional development of research supervisors. The aim of the framework is to build a culture of excellence in supervisory practice through emphasis on reflection, continued professional development (CPD) and building a community of supervisors. The framework provides support for new and experienced supervisors as we argue that excellence cannot be measured by the number of completions alone. This crude indicator ignores both the role of the student and the complexities of supervisory practice.

The foundation of the framework is the Supervisor Development Programme (SDP), which is mandatory for all staff who supervise doctoral students or intend to do so in the future. The programme encourages participants to explore their own experiences of being supervised, the supervisory relationship and supporting students from induction to completion. It is constructed around Lee’s (2008) framework and grounded in a belief that supervision is a specialist form of teaching (McCallin & Nayer, 2012). Lee’s (2008) framework supports the idea that supervision must be responsive and flexible to the needs of individual students, characteristics which are seen by Nulty et al (2009) as hallmarks of supervisory excellence.

The programme is built on by an annual requirement for CPD, specialist workshops, and forums for supervisors at a local level which are underpinned by the theory of Communities of Practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Supervisors access updated information on regulatory and process changes via the institutional virtual learning environment.

This presentation will outline the components of the framework in further detail and open discussion around whether conceptualising supervision as a form of teaching and emphasising continued professional development can help achieve excellence in postgraduate supervision.

Keywords:Doctoral supervision
Subjects:X Education > X342 Academic studies in Higher Education
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Health & Social Care
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ID Code:25258
Deposited On:26 Nov 2016 17:33

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