söndag 3 november 2013

Research supervision course

I've hinted a couple to times on the blog that I have been very busy this autumn and beyond the two courses I've taught (Future of Media, Sustainability and Media Technology), I have also myself been a student (of sorts) since I'm taking a course called "Research supervision":

"The course [...] is customized for research supervisors at KTH" and we work through a lot of different themes in the course:
- The framework for postgraduate education
- The quality of postgraduate education
- The craft of supervision
- Leadership - fostering independent researchers
- Gender and cultural diversity
- Leadership and relationships
- Supporting the development of researcher skills
- Ethics and completion
- Reflections on supervision

Each theme above corresponds to one of the nine meetings in the course (the course started in September and it ends in December). The course is meant to support teachers/researchers in their ph.d. supervision efforts:

"The overarching objective of the course is to provide you with tools for a more reflective approach to research supervsion. In the course you will get acquainted with rules and literature, you will meet lecturers, guests and a number of peers and colleagues. Together they represent valuable resouces in the form of rules, science and experience. Your assignment is to mirror all these aspects and reflect on them in order to determine your own conscious and reflective way of supervising in the context of KTH and your own research area."

During the first meeting in the course I was handed a book (course literature) for free, "How to get a PhD: A handbook for students and their supervisors" (Phillips & Pugh, 2010). While I have read all the other articles as part of the preparations for our meetings, I have to admit I haven't opened the book yet - but I promise I plan to read it from start to finish!

In mid-October we all went away on a two-day retreat where we treated and completed three of the nine themes in the course. I will attend the seventh meeting in the course this coming week and I hope I will eventually be able to pass the course even though I have realized I will miss the very last course meeting (and the attendance requirements are draconian).

There is quite a lot to read in the course and we typically also have to complete an assignment before each meeting, but the main purpose of the course is, I guess, to discuss and reflect upon own and others' experiences as well as common challenges when supervising ph.d. students. By attending the course I'm also developing my networks and contacts with other teachers/researchers at KTH. That's nice since it's very easy to work at KTH without ever meeting or interacting with people from schools other than my own (The School of Computer Science and Communication, CSC).

The assignment for this week's meeting is the most arduous yet. I had to interview two experienced supervisors and then add my own reflections (1-2 pages of text) about the strategies they use to "shape" their ph.d. students into independent researchers. The task was on the other has pleasurable as it forced me to interview two colleagues and have a nice chat with them about stuff we don't usually talk about. The course gives you a reason and a pass to go out of the way and do things you usually don't.

While the course is valuable and perhaps even fun, I can't stop wishing that I had taken it this past spring when I had more time. It is what it is though and the course has (unfortunately) been one more reason for this autumn having been very busy this far.

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