An Eye On The Prize: Fourth Year Honours Students, Thesis Writing And The Group Supervision Process

Year: 2003

Author: Fitzsimmons, Phil, Anderson, Raelene, McKenzie, Barbra, Chen, Honglin

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This presentation discusses a project arose as a result of an 'Open Forum on Supervision' at the University of Wollongong (September 2002), where the discussion centred on the need to explore different forms of doctoral supervision as it seems that the current focus on supervision of research students across Australasia as a whole is in a current state of flux (Mullins 2002). It would appear that although the supervision of thesis writing students has been a natural and accepted part of an academics working life, little is really known about the actual process, the conditions which underpin optimal supervision or the nature of alternative formats to the typical one on one nature of the process. As stated by Tinkler & Jackson (2000:167), the whole process as it stands is 'shrouded in mystery'.

Thus, in an attempt to explore possible alternatives to all research programs, and mentor possible future doctoral into the research process, a team or a 'community' based approach was set up by the Education faculty. The specific aims were to provide both individual and group mentoring while simultaneously providing an avenue for "openness, and a spirit of inquiry, all of which are desirable traits for educational researchers, whether beginners or otherwise" (Pallas 2002;9).

This paper discusses how the students involved in a 'community of learners' approach have reacted to the initial stages of this new model and the epistemological diversity they encountered.