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Student & Supervisor Expectations

As well as the student and supervisor having certain responsibilities, we found that both also had a number of expectations from each other.

Not only is it vital to know each other’s responsibilities in a relationship, but it’s also key to understand each other’s expectations too.

Here we identify the expectations we found that both students and supervisors had of each other from feedback gained from: postgraduate students; supervisors; other staff; workshops and focus groups.

The Student's Expectations

The following emerged as the common themes of what students expect from their supervisors in order to enhance the relationship:

  • Showing Empathy

    Students identified that supervisors should show empathy when interacting with them and providing feedback.

    By supervisors recognising students’ emotional and mental wellbeing, they felt that it would inspire them, nurtures them as budding researchers, and enable a much better relationship.

    Students highlighted that supervisors could show empathy by:

    • Making a deliberate effort to listen to their students first
    • Asking questions to encourage students to fully express their thoughts
    • Recognising that every student is unique and avoiding a one size fits all approach
    • Identifying their own flaws and habits and working to improve them
    • Being culturally aware and creating a culturally sensitive environment
    • Immediately identifying when there is friction/communication gap in the relationship and taking steps to address it
    • Studying the emotional behaviors and patterns of their students
    • Being willing to make adjustments where needed
    • Being open minded
  • Providing Clear Communication

    Students highlighted that supervisors could deliver clear communication by:

    • Providing clear, concise and constructive feedback that is open and honest
    • Not being afraid to discuss ‘taboo’ topics if they become relevant through positively constructed, non-personal questions
    • Being clear about how long it will take to complete the project
    • Being clear about the time it will take for them to respond to emails
    • Being clear about what a student should do if they are unable to meet a deadline
    • Being clear if and why they are unable to provide feedback when expected
    • Both parties initially setting out and agreeing clear guidelines of expectations
  • Undergoing Relevant Training

    Students highlighted that supervisors could gain relevant training by:

    • Exploring and availing of the training that Queen’s offers, such as those delivered by The Graduate School, People and Culture and the Center for Educational Development
    • Availing of the Cultural Awareness training provided by the Queen’s Language Center
    • Identifying characteristics of good supervision in their development plan and developing their skills to suit
    • Knowing how to give feedback that is not damaging to the students’ wellbeing
    • Always bearing in mind that supervisors and students have different understandings about feedback, research and engagement
    • Students and supervisors having regular joint training about interactions with each other
  • Giving Support & Guidance

    Students highlighted that supervisors could give support and guidance by:

    • Providing guidance on the research while also identifying relevant training, matters of publication, conference attendance and teaching
    • Avoiding criticizing non-native speakers of the English language and instead referring these students to the appropriate INTO Queen’s training

The Supervisor's Expectations

The following emerged as the common theme of what supervisors expect from their students in order to enhance the relationship:

  • Students as Independent Scholars

    Supervisors highlighted that students could become independent scholars by:

    • Being centred as becoming scholars
    • Not pausing when waiting for feedback
    • Taking initiative trying to find answers to their questions first
    • Asking what they can be doing while waiting for feedback
    • Asking what they should be striving to achieve
    • Asking what can set them apart from other scholars entering their discipline
    • Setting clear goals and planning for professional development
    • Taking equal responsibility for the meeting schedules
    • Following advice given by their supervisor team
    • Being willing to receive constructive feedback which may be critical