Inclusive practice in undergraduate dissertation supervision

Hannah Frith

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


    Objective/Purpose Dissertations are a highly valued capstone assessment which showcases students’ research skills, subject mastery, and autonomy. Yet, despite an increasingly diverse student body little scholarly attention has been paid to inclusive practice in supervision. This study aims to examine the views and experiences of supervisors, undergraduate students and the Disability and Dyslexia Support Team (DDST), in order to identify good practice, the challenges of doing dissertations/supervision (especially for students with disabilities) and ways of overcoming these challenges. Design/Background This is a qualitative case study of undergraduate supervision at one higher education institution. Methods Supervisors (n=11), undergraduates (n=20) and DDST (n=6) volunteers completed online, anonymous qualitative questionnaires examining their experiences of completing the dissertation and/or supervision. The questionnaire identified good practice and challenges in supervision, with a focus on supervising students with disabilities. Thematic Analysis was used to identify key commonalities across the data set. Result/Outcomes Analysis revealed three key themes describing an ‘ideal model’ of supervision. 1: supervision as dialogic, requiring good communication; 2: supervision as requiring autonomous and engaged students, and challenging yet supportive supervisors; 3: supervision as individually tailored to the student and project. Drawing on the concept of ‘supervisory dialogues’ analysis identified 3 tensions troubling this ideal. 1: Individually tailored supervision requires students to communicate strengths, weaknesses, skills, difficulties; 2: Supervisor’s ideal model and practice may unwittingly disadvantage some students; and 3: Balancing challenging against supporting students. Conclusions Practical implications for supporting both students and students to engage in effective supervisory dialogues are explored.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 2018
    EventBritish Psychological Society’s Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers in Psychology Inaugral Conference - Birmingham City University, Birmingham, United Kingdom
    Duration: 6 Jun 20187 Jan 2019


    ConferenceBritish Psychological Society’s Division of Academics, Researchers and Teachers in Psychology Inaugral Conference
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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