Towards humanising online postgraduate supervision: Reflecting on student experiences in lockdown
Postgraduate research supervision is a complex activity that involves supporting students as they become part of, and make a contribution to, a knowledge community. Research studies indicate that this supervision process is often fraught with tensions, which can potentially impact the supervisory relationship, the success or drop-out of postgraduate candidates, how well they are inducted into the knowledge community and their development as independent researchers. Research has also shown that these tensions are often aggravated in South African higher education due to the country's unique historical context and the impact of this history on postgraduate demographics in different disciplines.
In this presentation I draw on a research survey administered to postgraduate students at three South African universities during the Covid-19 lockdowns, and consider the increased complexity of the supervisory relationship during this time. Through the lens of Gee's (2008) concept of discourses, I present a humanising approach to postgraduate supervision. This approach seeks to recognise postgraduate scholars as individual and unique, coming into the postgraduate environment from different contexts, bringing with them different ways of knowing and being in the discipline, and therefore needing different forms of induction into the knowledge community. I consider the role of technology in supporting this humanising pedagogy during the lockdown period.
Dr Nompilo Tshuma is a lecturer and researcher in the Centre for Higher and Adult Education. She has been working with educational technology since 2005, as both a lecturer and an academic developer. In her current role she is the institutional coordinator for a regional PG Diploma in Higher Education. She also teaches modules in the Centre's two MPhil programmes and supervises Masters and PhD students. As an educational technology researcher, she employs social and critical theories to explore the context and politics of higher education, and their impact on educational technology practices.
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