Supervisor Support Working Group

In Irish Higher Education Institutions, there is increasing demand from academic staff for more support in preparing for the task of supervising postgraduate students and sustaining effective practice within changing contexts. In parallel, there is national demand for more structured procedures for supervision and for the development of staff supervisory skills.

The National Academy for Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (NAIRTL) has funded a major project, collaborative between University College Cork, Cork Institute of Technology, National University of Ireland, Galway, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin and Waterford Institute of Technology, to develop strategies for optimised support to supervisors. The Supervisor Support working group was set up in 2008 by NAIRTL and is comprised representatives from the six partner institutions. The working group aims to:

  • develop strategies for the support of staff involved in student supervision including induction sessions for new staff, and workshops for experienced staff
  • develop training materials, guidelines and handbooks, and an on-line forum for discussion of issues
As a first step, the Supervisor Support working group carried out a survey within the partner institutes to solicit the views of the academic and research community on this area and perceived key priorities in order to tailor developments accordingly. The results of this survey are now available at the following link. Supervisor survey report (pdf)

Drawing on best practice from international institutions in the US, Europe and Australia, the working group developed a framework curriculum to address issues faced by the supervisor such as student recruitment, conflict resolution, preparing for the Viva etc. The curriculum includes four workshops varying from half-day to full-day sessions, which are tailored to local practices and needs.

The Research Supervisor Support & Development workshops have been piloted in the six participating HEIs, and more recently in DCU, and revised according to participant feedback. The working group members shared their experiences of implementing the curriculum in their institution in April 2011 at NAIRTL workshop on the "Development of support structures for research supervisors" (workshop details) and this attracted further interest in the curriculum.

Developing an institutional framework for supporting supervisors: a practical guide
The working group have recently developed and published an interactive practical guide which outlines a framework for the support of supervisors of postgraduate research students. The experiences of the seven institutions who ultimately participated in the project are summarized in the form of a series of commentaries on approaches to such training, and a description of the primary elements of the final framework itself. It is intended that this information may be of use to any institutions interested in developing their own supports for research supervisors, and ultimately will be of benefit to the supervisors themselves and, of course, their students. (link to pdf)
The production of this publication was a collaborative effort between the members of NAIRTL’s Supervisor Support and Development working group: Alan Kelly, University College Cork (Chair of Working Group), Lucy Byrnes, National University of Ireland, Galway, Veronica Campbell, Trinity College Dublin, Janet Carton, University College Dublin, Siobhan Harkin, Waterford Institute of Technology, Anna Marie Leonard, National University of Ireland, Galway, Pat Morgan, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ciara O’Farrell, Trinity College Dublin, Catherine O’Mahony, NAIRTL, and Niall Smith, Cork Institute of Technology.

Supervisor Forum (link to forum)
The National Academy has also created a dedicated forum for Supervisors to post questions, share experiences and discuss issues relating to the supervision of postgraduate studies. The forum aims to provide peer support across disciplines and institutions and is an additional resource and accompaniement to the framework curriculum.

Upcoming Events
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EuroSoTL 2015: Bridging Boundaries through the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning
Inaugural EuroSoTL ConferenceEuroSoTL 2015 was held in University College Cork on 8-9 June 2015 and attracted more than 300 delegates. The conference theme Bridging Boundaries through the Scholarship of Teaching ...
8 June, 2015
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28 May, 2015

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