Reviewing research supervision/advising pedagogy.

images 003

Recently I came across a document detailing intentional teaching practices for teachers working in the Early Years Planning Framework. It highlights the importance of an early start with pedagogy. With a simple shift in terminology, it also highlights the relevance of pedagogy in higher education, particularly in the context of research advising or supervision.

The only editing I have undertaken is to replace children with research students and, in one of the examples, to exchange road safety for ethical practices.




In the context of secure relationships, educators gauge when to offer challenges and opportunities for research students to extend their skills and ideas. Educators can extend research student’s thinking through provocation and reflection.


Working together with research students to investigate and explore ideas. Educators take their own ideas and those that research students bring, and build on them to discover new possibilities and develop and test hypotheses.


Enabling research students to take the lead in an investigation or an idea while working alongside them to contribute to, rather than dominate, the direction of the experience. This can also include involving others, such as family members and members of the community, who may have particular expertise or knowledge that can inform the learning.


Motivating and supporting research students to persist with a task, particularly one that requires effort.


Making ideas and requests clear for research students, particularly when they want or need to understand a concept or idea, often in relation to their own and others’ safety or rights.


Drawing research student’s attention to new ideas and topics. Pointing out things of interest may generate areas for exploration and investigation.


Creating environments where research students are encouraged to use imagination and creativity to investigate, hypothesise and express themselves. Educators plan opportunities for research students to freely engage in experiences with no set expectations for outcomes, and where students can explore their own possibilities.


Using techniques that engage and are respectful of research students ideas. Educators use direct instruction when other strategies might not be appropriate. For example, teaching research students about ethical research requires educators to be clear about their expectations of  research students, and to identify the ethical practices needed in these types of situations.


Through actively responding to research student’s contributions, educators create opportunities for authentic and lengthy exchanges resulting in sustained shared conversations. Deeply and thoughtfully, encourage research students to lead conversations.

Making connections

Assisting research students to see relationships and incongruities. Educators contribute to research student’s thinking by comparing and contrasting experiences and ideas.


Demonstrating a skill or how a task is done. Modelling should always be supported with opportunities for research students to attempt and practice the skill.


Enabling research students to attempt to solve problems themselves, and address challenging issues. Educators provide scaffolding to allow students  to see multiple sides to an argument or issue, and encourage students to find reasonable solutions to address their own and others’ perspectives.

Providing for choice

Recognising research student’s capacities to make safe choices and experience the outcomes. Provisions for choice need to be well-considered, and should not place students at risk or in danger. Enabling students to make choices is valuable when autonomy and independence are encouraged.

Questioning to engage students  in thinking and problem-solving

Questions should be genuine and respectful, and not used to gather responses already known by educators. Educators should encourage students to ask questions of them and of their peers.


Working with students to find out and investigate. This can involve them in asking others, using the internet and local library, or telephoning relevant agencies. Researching helps students learn about the many ways of finding solutions and gathering information.

Revisiting and revising


Taking the opportunity to revisit experiences and thinking, which enables students  to reflect on and build on prior learning.


Using knowledge of student’s abilities, educators break down tasks and ideas, and provide students with a supportive framework for taking the next steps or moving onto a higher level of thinking.


Given the agenda of pedagogy in research supervision, and the apparent absence of specific names for some of the pedagogies that might be appropriate in the research advisor/supervisor/ research student relationship, this edited list appears to me to provide some specifics with which to work.



Commonwealth of Australia 2009, Interpreting the Early Years Learning Framework: A guide for educators, Draft for trial, April, pp. 35–36.


About the (research) supervisor's friend

I work at a university helping university academics who are supervising research students. I am a research supervisor myself and also work as a research coach for people undertaking their research I was originally in a Management Faculty and when I completed my doctoral studies on 'doing a doctorate' I started working with research supervisors to help them improve their practice.
This entry was posted in research supervision as pedagogy. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s