The Student View

A Quantitative Analysis of PhD Students’ Views of Supervision

Author: Trevor Heath
DOI: 10.1080/07294360220124648
Publication Frequency: 6 issues per year

Published in: journal Higher Education Research & Development, Volume 21, Issue 1 May 2002 , pages 41 – 53
Number of References: 18
Formats available: PDF (English)
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Data on supervision were obtained from questionnaires completed by 355 PhD candidates when they submitted their theses at The University of Queensland. The aim was to provide data that could be used in efforts to enhance the quality of postgraduate supervision. The median age of these candidates was 33, and the 58% who had been full-time throughout took a median of 3.2 years. One third had a single supervisor and the rest one or more associate supervisors. Almost all (85%) expressed satisfaction with the expertise of their supervisor(s). For those who did express dissatisfaction it was not possible to determine the extent to which this reflected problems with the candidate or the supervisor; and if the supervisor, the extent to which it was related to the level of commitment, or to excess workload, or to other factors. Formal meetings were held at least fortnightly with 67% in the early stages, but the frequency decreased in mid-candidature, and increased again towards the end. The frequency also depended on an interaction between gender, discipline area, whether full time or part time candidates, and whether from Australia or overseas. Where meetings were held at least fortnightly, 70-85% expressed satisfaction with a range of aspects of supervision. Supervisors began to require written work from 86% during the first year, and by the time they submitted their thesis, 83% had one or more publications. Most (89%) attended one or more conferences, mainly at national or international level, and had presented one or more papers at conferences. Candidates in the sciences met more frequently with their supervisors, published more papers, and included their supervisor as co-author more often, and also gave more seminars than did those in the humanities and social sciences.

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