Reflecting on Practice


Research supervision is the one of the highest forms of teaching and pedagogical tools can be used in a number of ways in practice. When considering research as a form of teaching, this directly engages the student and acknowledges their role in the research and in the academic community. Experiencing higher degree supervision as teaching can be expressed in a number of ways. Some of the following, identified by Bruce and Stoodley (2011) may be familiar to you. You may or may not have considered these before;

  • Promoting the Research Supervisor’s development
  • Imparting Academic Expertise
  • Upholding academic standards
  • Promoting learning to research
  • Drawing upon student expertise
  • Enabling student development
  • Venturing into unexplored territory
  • Forming productive communities
  • Contributing to society

Pedagogical approaches will change over the life cycle of the doctorate.


Understanding the rationale for how and why you supervise the way you do enables you to make decisions about your practice in a more pro-active rather than reactionary way (Brew and Peseta 2010). How you were supervised as a doctoral student will have a big impact on how you approach your own supervisory practice. 
Incorporating reflective practice into your supervisory approach, allows you to self-evaluate. Actively engaging in reflection or review (either alone, or ideally in a structured manner with peers) helps you to identify, strengths and weaknesses and is central to experiential learning, or how we make sense of what we do. Everyone engages in this activity to some extent, however we rarely to this in a systematic structured manner which may fundamentally change our practices.