I was lucky in getting the right supervisor for my research
Finding and building a good relationship with the right research supervisor cannot be taken for granted in universities. Since I started my postgraduate studies in Finland, I’ve been constantly confronted with my colleagues’ quest on finding the right supervisor for their studies and research work. When I was accepted to do my Master Degree at the University of Eastern Finland, I wasn’t assigned any supervisor at that moment and I wasn’t assigned with the task of finding one for my Master thesis either. Just a few months after the Master Degree Program started, I was told who would be my supervisor and that was it. Back then, I didn’t question this decision for any moment because the supervisor I was assigned fit very well my research goals and expectations. Also, our previous class experiences gave us a good taste that we would work together as a student-supervisor very well. Since then I’ve had the same supervisor for my PhD studies as well. Later I realized that I was lucky.
Many colleagues had a different experience within this framework. Their research goals didn’t fit their assigned supervisor experience on the field, their relationship didn’t develop well, and in the end some chose, after tears in their relationship, to change supervisors, sometimes even research topics. What a mess! Not only for the students and supervisors, but for the university as a whole. Research productivity and publication performance are relevant indicators that impact the university evaluation and its ranking classification, nationally and internationally. Therefore, an organizational framework that facilitates a good match between students and supervisors will ultimately result in more research publications, which are critical for a positive result in the university evaluation.
Building a positive relationship between students and supervisors
Abbas and his colleagues (2020) developed a study to investigate what factors are relevant for students to take into consideration when they are looking for a supervisor that can truly support them in their postgraduate studies and research work. According to them,
Teacher–student interaction is important for better outcomes in the form of publication, as the teacher plays a critical role as a supervisor. […] The teacher helps his mentees choose a research topic, and his moral support helps them build their confidence […] in participating in academic activities and leads to better outcomes.Abbas et al., 2020, p.2
Three elements that students should have into account when looking for the right supervisors
According to Abbas et al. (2020) investigation, students expect to have in their relationship with their research supervisors the following three elements:
Expertise: for teachers to be able to mentor students along their postgraduate studies and research work, besides being an expert in their research field aligned with the students’ research interest, teachers…
Must know how to set and achieve goals, arrange communication development activities, and apply technology-based learning approaches.Abbas et al., 2020, p.3
Support: in order for students to achieve their academic goals in a set timeframe, teachers support along the way is of fundamental importance. Such support comes in the form of positive interactions and constructive feedback, moral support in participating in academic activities and going through research challenges, and also finding financial support for the students as scholarships, funded projects etc.
Balancing creativity and criticism: students need creative learning environments to thrive on their research interests and bring innovative ideas to the research process. At the same time, critical and constructive feedback is fundamental in a collaborative research project to keep the work on track and with high quality.
Implementing these elements with Wihi
Wihi is a digital platform for the supervision and management of academic projects. It streamlines the process and improves the quality of scientific production. Wihi supports active and online teaching methodology, such as Flipped Classroom, and is intended to be used by students, coordinators, and supervisors, as featured in the graphic below:
As represented in this graphic, students send their topic proposal to the faculty coordinator first, instead of sending directly to the supervisor. This organizational framework has a twofold objective:
- The faculty coordinator becomes aware of all the new research projects that are starting from the topic proposal stage.
- Coordinators can align faculty demands of project researchers with students’ research interests and support a good match between students and teachers towards better research collaborations.
Wihi provides tools to systematically monitor student progress and increase communication between students, supervisors, and coordinators, improving the stakeholders’ relationship towards better research collaborations. Eduix also provides education consultancy and training for university teachers on how to build positive relationship with students, as well as support them along their research work.
If you are interested in getting to know more about Wihi, check Wihi website or contact me by email (email@example.com).