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Prospectives: Lynn McAlpine
Written by FIA   
Thursday, 12 September 2013 00:00
In the third issue of 2013 (36/2) the Prospectives section, launched in the second issue of 2012 and continued in the third and fourth issues, and in the first and second issues of 2013, continues its development, featuring Lynn McAlpine's  Doctoral supervision: Not an individual but a collective institutional responsibility
As announced in the Editorial introduction of Infancia y Aprendizaje's new stage, all articles published in the Prospectives section will be freely accessible in the journal's electronic edition. We thus invite all our readers to view and spread the articles published in this section if they cater to their interest.
Read the abstract or access directly the full text article.

Doctoral supervision: Not an individual but a collective institutional responsibility

Lynn McAlpine, University of Oxford

My research broadly speaking has always been directed at understanding how individuals learn from and through experience. Since 2006, with Canadian and UK colleagues I have been researching the experiences of doctoral students, post-PhD researchers, and new lecturers. Our hope has been to shed light on what and how they learn about academic work. What I want to focus on in this essay is what we have learned about supervision. What participants in all three roles have in common is the experience of having been supervised. In contrast, the experience of being an institutionally-recognized supervisor tends to emerge only as individuals become lecturers and try to make sense of 'moving to the other side of the table.' My goal in this essay is to draw out from our research the pedagogical implications for supervision – implications which I find myself now trying to implement in my own supervisory practice. Overall, the evidence I present challenges the taken-for-granted assumption that the supervisor is the primary support for doctoral progress. What I argue is that:

• student experience of supervision is situated in student desire to be agentive, to draw on a range of relationships that support progress, and to draw on supervisory support only for 'legitimate' reasons (and, as a result, not always reveal issues influencing progress);

• new supervisor experience is situated in simultaneously taking on a range of new demands and negotiating 'fitting in' with new peers, while drawing principally on the personal experience of being supervised until a richer set of strategies develops.

As a result, I argue that supervision should be conceptualized as a collective institutional responsibility that calls for explicit educational and curricular consideration; it should not be individually improvised, but rather be the result of thoughtfully structured curricular support for the student and supervisor.


Article published in Infancia y Aprendizaje, 2013, 36 (3), 259-280. View full text.

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