Research supervisory training: an exploration of trends in supervisory experience, training types and perceptions of training in Australian and South African cases

Van Rensburg, Henriette and Erwee, Ronel and Malan, Renee (2015) Research supervisory training: an exploration of trends in supervisory experience, training types and perceptions of training in Australian and South African cases. In: 5th Biennial Conference on Research into Postgraduate Supervision: Looking ahead: the Future of Postgraduate Supervision in the Knowledge Society, 25-27 March 2015, Stellenbosch, South Africa.


In contrast to Australian universities which are dealing with an ageing academic workforce and insufficient new qualified academics to replace retiring academics (Hugo & Morris, 2010; University of Melbourne, 2009), universities in developing countries are facing pressures of many newly qualified academics with little experience in supervision who are facing demands to accept doctoral students . The focus in this paper is on the research supervisors who have the responsibility to guide research higher degree students, particularly doctoral students, to completion. Luca and Wolski (2013, p. 17) in their report on a Good Practice Framework for research training argue that an university should provide higher degree research students with a supervisory team with adequate discipline and research methods expertise who are also successful in supervising research students to completion. Such a supervisory team must mentor and actively assist the candidate, meet the academic and administrative requirements of the institution, tailor their practice to the needs of individual candidates and provide access to pastoral care as required. Postgraduate studies and supervision play an important role in a knowledge based society and mirror the university’s research profile (Mohammad, 2014). The occurrence of the knowledge-management concept has deep implications for transforming the quality of postgraduate research supervision in universities where knowledge business dictates; and where research supervision should help to transform students into knowledge workers and managers (Zhao, 2003, p. 1). The objectives of this exploratory research are to analyse types of research supervisors’ training and their perceptions of the effectiveness of supervisory training in an Australian university and a convenience sample of research supervisors at a supervisory workshop in South Africa. During conversations with Australian and South African supervisors, the pressure for more training of their doctoral students by universities was mentioned. For example in Arthur et al (2008), there was a greater interest among Australian universities to share ideas and policies on the type of ‘employability training’ that doctoral students would need in future. The generic skills component was envisaged as “skills required for employment in knowledge industries and further career development” (Arthur, McWilliam, Neuman, & Nicol, 2008, p5). The respondents note their research supervisory experience, types of research supervisory training or professional development and their satisfaction of what is available to research supervisors in these institutions. They provide feedback on their perceptions of their training needs as research supervisors in the future to enhance quality postgraduate supervision. The supervisors share their experiences of whether they had been mentored by experienced supervisors or are conducting their own research into supervision. This paper describes the continua of research supervisors’ experience as well as research training in these universities and formulates questions for future research.

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Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Commonwealth Reporting Category E) (Paper)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Abstract only published in Proceedings.
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Management and Enterprise
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2016 06:46
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2016 04:56
Uncontrolled Keywords: research supervisors, research supervisory training, knowledge society
Fields of Research : 15 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services > 1503 Business and Management > 150311 Organisational Behaviour
13 Education > 1301 Education Systems > 130103 Higher Education
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130304 Educational Administration, Management and Leadership
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9305 Education and Training Systems > 930502 Management of Education and Training Systems
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970113 Expanding Knowledge in Education

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