Specialist outcomes: indicative content

Outcome 5

Monitor and evaluate their own supervisory practices with a range of self, peer and student monitoring and evaluation techniques

This potentially includes:

  • analysis of the relevant merits of the evaluation techniques used to monitor supervisory practice generally and their own practice
  • organisation of any distance supervision
  • keeping records of meetings with students
  • keeping records of student achievement
  • student feedback
  • peer evaluation of joint supervisions

and may additionally include:

  • preparing reports for co-supervisors and/or others
  • peer and self-appraisal.

Supervisors need to undertake critical self-analysis of their supervisory practice to monitor its effectiveness and its compliance with the requirements of the relevant Research Councils. The whole range of the supervisor’s activities should be taken into account, as well as any national developments which may impinge on the supervisory role and practices. There also needs to be evidence of an understanding of the ethical considerations attached to the research topic and to supervisory practice.

Outcome 6

Use interpersonal, organisational and coping skills

This potentially includes:

  • evidence of effective communication with students
  • examples of time management
  • use of supporting networks       

and may additionally include:

  • use of a mentoring scheme for supervisors
  • reporting on the use of disciplinary networks and groups in order to improve and develop their skills and understanding
  • evidence of improved practice.

The skills which a supervisor may need and the approach they would take in supervision are likely to vary from one situation to another. The evidence provided needs to demonstrate an understanding of communication skills, time and priority management – their own and their students’ and a knowledge of sources of help, both within the supervisor’s own institution and external. There also needs to be evidence that supervisors have given serious consideration to these matters.

Outcome 7

Use their specialist knowledge and skills appropriately in the higher education context

This potentially includes:

  • accounts of the process of agreeing a research topic
  • scholarly activity related to topics of student research being supervised
  • examples of joint planning with research student(s) to access appropriate research facilities
  • examples of process to chose methodologies for a research project
  • examples, where appropriate, of referral to ethics committees

and may additionally include:

  • bids for external funding
  • external examiner comments
  • joint activities with other researchers.

Supervisors will need to show that they access and use a broad knowledge base and its associated research methodologies in the area in which they supervise and that they work with students to develop and update these as appropriate for the individual student’s programme of work. What this involves will vary from one discipline to another, e.g. in the natural sciences, the research problem is frequently defined at the outset of a student’s programme and in the arts and humanities it frequently progresses by exploration and progressive focussing and may be crystallised only at a relatively late stage.

Evidence and commentary should also give consideration to the approaches that the supervisor has used with individual students and may consider how individual students’ projects have been shaped by, for example, availability of resources such as equipment and/or time, viability, the appropriateness of particular methodologies, their approach to planning, and their approach to searching and using literature.

Consideration should be given to referrals to ethics committees, knowledge of regulations, bids for external funding and to feedback from students for supervisors and external examiners.

Outcome 8

Plan and implement an appropriate strategy for the supervision process

This potentially includes:

  • induction of research students
  • examples of negotiation with students about the supervision process
  • planning students’ progress
  • records of supervisions, with dates and agreed actions       

and may additionally include:

  • the ‘contract’ by which supervisor and student agree to arrange and conduct supervisions
  • varieties of supervision
  • panel supervision.

This outcome is concerned with the achievement of an appropriate match between supervisor and student(s) and research proposal. This will vary considerably from one discipline to another according to normal practice within the discipline. Evidence should be tailored to the approaches the supervisor has taken and how this fits with institutional and discipline policies and norms.

It is also concerned with the form of arrangements for the interaction between supervisors and students. This will also very from one supervisor-student partnership to another, even in similar disciplines and for programmes at similar levels. It will need negotiation, often ongoing negotiation, for each supervisor-student partnership, even where it is framed by departmental or institutional requirements. The account may consider how the negotiation was investigated, what it was and how it developed in practice, depending on the form of supervision and the needs of any funding body.

Outcome 9

Perform effectively their student support and academic administrative tasks

This potentially includes:

  • working with any administrative framework, including record keeping
  • operating within and awareness of departmental or institutional facilities for student support
  • negotiating and working within appropriate boundaries
  • where appropriate, offering educational guidance and, where  necessary, referring to specialist services      

and may additionally include:

  • case studies of students where research has been affected by external factors and how these were handled.

As part of their role, supervisors should be able to make decisions about how far it is appropriate for them to involve themselves in matters which could be considered only loosely associated with a student’s programme of work, and how and when to locate other professional forms of support and direct students to them. Matters here may be written and without the supervisor’s remit, e.g. problems which students may face with regard to provision of office facilities, access to institutional facilities, financial, emotional or health problems. An understanding of the role of pastoral care and need for boundaries when dealing with such matters should be evidenced.

Outcome 10

Use an appropriate range of methods (and skills) to monitor, examine and assess student progress and attainment and give feedback on work

This potentially includes:

  • accounts of feedback processes
  • examples of feedback to students
  • reflection on monitoring student work

and may additionally include:

  • examples of support for students presenting papers
  • records of mock viva
  • case studies of the feedback process.

Supervisors’ experience of monitoring and assessing may involve a range of practices, including giving feedback on students’ oral and/or written work, planning and monitoring students’ progress, discussing seminar and conference papers and presentations, conducting practice oral examinations, acting as an internal assessor for other students and acting as an external examiner.

Outcome 11

Supervise production and assessment of the research project (thesis)

This potentially includes:

  • selecting and negotiating with external examiners
  • agreeing policy on feedback on final drafts
  • preparing for and conducting viva
  • giving feedback on students’ oral and/or written work

and may additionally include:

  • conducting mock oral examinations
  • acting as an internal assessor for other students
  • experience of working with appeals and complaints
  • acting as an external or internal examiner.

Supervising the production of the thesis involves decisions about the detail in which the student ought to be writing the thesis at each stage of the work, the standards of academic writing about the degree of involvement that the supervisor ought to have. The evidence should consider the various tasks undertaken, such as:  the supervisor’s role in the student’s completing the research and writing up the work or producing the final product for assessment, the selection or the suggesting of appropriate examiners, preparing for and conducting a viva and discussion of local and national standards. There should be offered justification for differing approaches with individual students.

Outcome 12

Enable the development in their students of key skills for lifelong learning

This potentially includes:

  • working on strategies for skills development with students
  • developing ways of monitoring progress on key skills

and may additionally include:

  • promotion of problem-solving approaches
  • the teaching of property rights and copyright
  • examples of student-led work.

Supervisors should find a way of focusing their students, during their normal programmes of work, on the development of the so-called ‘transferable’ or ‘key skills’. These will probably vary from student to student. Thought should be given to the skills which are being developed and how the development was and can be facilitated within the institution; skills such as communication, leadership, problem solving, team skills, research skills and skills associated with scholarship.