EFFECTIVE SUPERVISION MEETING PRACTICES: A PRACTICAL TOOL
Editor: Bohemia, Erik; Kovacevic, Ahmed; Buck, Lyndon; Brisco, Ross; Evans, Dorothy; Grierson, Hilary; Ion, William; Whitfield, Robert Ian
Author: Coutts, Euan (1,2); Marshall, Pamela (2)
Institution: 1: University of Canterbury, New Zealand; 2: University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom
Section: Assessment 1
DOI number: https://doi.org/10.35199/epde2019.41
Supervision of student work is a core component of any academic’s role. Holding meetings for this purpose can quickly occupy a large percentage of an academic’s diary and yet both academics and students often begrudge such meetings; supervisees may feel that meetings are not fruitful or purposeful, academics may feel that students do not maximise on the time allocated to them, and both parties can feel that there are not sufficient hours in the day to accommodate such meetings along with
other commitments and expectations. Yet very few organisations have guidelines for meetings which is an “astonishing omission considering the cost of meetings to an organisation” (Woods and Berger, 1988). To improve supervision, and use of the supervisors’ time, a new approach to supervision focusing on regular, formatted meetings has been implemented and will be discussed. These types of meetings ensure a consistent format, rolling agenda and mechanism of consistent feedback. The process helps ensure consistency not only across the project but between supervisors. This approach to conducting meetings, facilitated by a paper based tool, embraces the concept of High Value Meetings (HVM) as “one that addresses an important organisational need through achieving its defined purpose effectively and efficiently” (Marshall, 2018), where value is considered to be a “contribution to satisfy need” (Reber and Duffy, 2005). This approach is effective as it provides regular, consistent feedback to students on their progress. This is of particular importance as “students need to have a clear idea of what is expected of them and whether they are meeting those expectations” (National Research Council. 2003). Feedback is provided throughout the meeting discussion, in the form of oral discussion accompanied by written feedback on progress against agreed targets following any significant project milestones. Fostering a sense of project ownership and responsibility ensures students are engaged in each meeting and not simply lulled into a “passive” state of deferring to an academic member of staff; which may lead a student to incorrectly expect to be “told what to do” in their projects. Vital as “incorporation of active learning strategies into the classroom is critical in order to reach Millennial students” (Roehl, et al. 2013). It is key the student is an active participant in the meeting and not just an attendee. The proposed innovative approach has been employed over the last 5 years for supervising students of various levels studying on product design engineering degrees and gathered significant consistently positive response from students upon course completion. In order to delve deeper into understanding which aspects of these approaches were deemed successful a survey based test was conducted to gather responses from previous students. The results are presented and discussed along with reflection and recommendations to colleagues within academia and further afield. The desired end result is to transform supervision meetings from a begrudged obligation to effective and efficient uses of both a supervisor and supervisees time; a mutually beneficial undertaking.