The quality of supervisory relationships is a key factor in the satisfactory completion of student research project. However, there are enormous variations in this relationship, because of differences between disciplines as well as individual differences. Thus, there may be a wide variety of appropriate strategies and approaches according to the discipline and the particular situation. Both the quantity and quality of communication between supervisors and research students is significant. Both can help the students reach a successful completion.
Different students will want and require different types and amounts of interaction, assistance, feedback and direction from the beginning and at different stages. Some students may be able clearly to articulate their needs and limitations from the beginning and this may assist you to work with them.
Throughout the process of the research project the relationship will change. You may notice that at some stage the rational, happy students you started supervising become anxious and angry. They may have periods when they seem quite irrational and unresponsive to suggestion and guidance. It must be noted that this research you are supervising is almost certainly the biggest piece of academic work the student has ever undertaken, and may ever undertake. The student’s desire for ultimate success and the problems which may appear along the way frequently make life a strain for student and supervisor alike.
At the start of the supervisor-student relationship, it is important to discuss other commitments, planned leave, holidays or other work commitments that the supervisor has. This sharing will help build trust with each other and lead to more open discussion.
It is worth noting that supervising a student is like running a class session. Therefore to comply with some of the requirements above, the environment must be conducive to learning.
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