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A small-scale investigation into Engineering PhD student satisfaction with supervision in an Australian university campus


Helfer, F and Drew, S, A small-scale investigation into Engineering PhD student satisfaction with supervision in an Australian university campus, Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education, 8-11 December 2013, Gold Coast, Australia, pp. 1-9. (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]


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BACKGROUND Doctoral supervision is doubtless one of the most complex forms of teaching in higher education. Poor quality supervision may affect the studentís candidature by, for instance, increasing the time for candidature completion, decreasing the quality of the research outcomes, and reducing the number and quality of publications. Further, poor quality supervision may also lead to early termination of doctoral candidatures. A quality doctoral supervision process, including a successful supervisor/student relationship, can provide high levels of student fulfilment and satisfaction and consequently, a successful doctoral candidature. PURPOSE This study investigated the level of satisfaction of engineering doctoral students with supervisors and supervision process at a large Australian university campus. Further goals of this investigation were: a) to determine the overall level of satisfaction of engineering doctoral students with different aspects of their supervision process; b) to identify positive and negative aspects of the doctoral supervision; and c) to identify the important qualities for a successful supervision process from the engineering doctoral studentsí perspective. METHOD The method employed in this investigation was based on a student quantitative and qualitative survey. A total of 47 full-time doctoral students were invited to participate via an anonymous online submission system. The survey comprised questions about studentsí current supervision experiences, and about their views on quality supervision. The questions were taken or adapted from validated methods published in the literature for similar studies. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS This study showed that approximately 50% of the engineering PhD students are satisfied with their supervision process at this university campus. The main reasons for satisfaction with supervision are related to the knowledge demonstrated by the supervisor, as well as to personal qualities such as friendliness, approachability, patience, consideration and understanding. The main reasons for dissatisfaction were related to the apparent lack of involvement of supervisors in the research projects, and the perceived lack of knowledge in the field for some supervisors. These issues suggest that supervisors should perhaps consider increasing the number of participants in the supervision team to provide PhD students with more assistance. Well-aligned with these issues are the studentsí remarks on the importance of supervisor interaction and collaboration with other research centres and universities in order to increase the cohort of supervisors potentially available to assist the students.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Conference Paper
Keywords:supervision, doctorate, satisfaction
Research Division:Language, Communication and Culture
Research Group:Communication and media studies
Research Field:Communication technology and digital media studies
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the information and computing sciences
UTAS Author:Drew, S (Dr Steve Drew)
ID Code:112048
Year Published:2013
Deposited By:Curriculum and Academic Development
Deposited On:2016-10-24
Last Modified:2017-11-19
Downloads:90 View Download Statistics

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