Experiencing Master’s Supervision : Perspectives of international students and their supervisors book cover
1st Edition

Experiencing Master’s Supervision
Perspectives of international students and their supervisors

ISBN 9781138579590
Published March 12, 2018 by Routledge
240 Pages

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Book Description

Master’s degree programmes are on the rise, attracting growing numbers of international students who speak English as a second or additional language. Experiencing Master’s Supervision: Perspectives of International Students and their Supervisors explores the experiences of supervising and being supervised at Master’s level, charting the difficulties and joys of learning for second language speakers of English while based at a UK university.

The authors report the findings of a year of studying both supervisees and their supervisors in four different departments in the social sciences and humanities at a UK research-intensive university. Using a multiple case study approach, and examining supervision in its natural context, this book presents rich descriptions of five case studies: three student-supervisor dyads and two cases of individual students. Analysing rich, first-hand narratives, chapters identify key aspects of satisfaction and dissatisfaction through the eyes of the participants, focusing upon expectations, supervision styles, feedback and students’ support networks, and discussing the broader implications for university and departmental policy makers, responsible for guidelines and requirements.

This book contains important insights into the supervisory experience at Master’s level and will appeal to researchers, academics and postgraduate students in the fields of higher education, TESOL, TEFL/TESL and applied linguistics. This book will also be a useful resource for supervisors, leaders of training sessions for supervisors, and for postgraduate directors and teaching committees at universities who develop supervisory guidelines and preparatory sessions for Master’s students.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction  2. Our Study  3. 'This is not my topic but I'll help as much as possible': Jay & Billy's story  4. 'I've not done this before, I want to be told exactly what to do': Victoria and Harriet's story  5. 'And I panicked and I couldn't focus and I felt it all crumbling down on me again!': Laura and Rosie's story  6. 'I had this opportunity. So yes - I took  it': Clara's story  7. 'My objective is not to learn how to work without supervision. My objective is somebody can teach me something': Janet's story  8. Discussion and conclusion  References  Appendices  Appendix A: Sample interview schedule for supervisees  Appendix B: Sample interview schedule for supervisors  Appendix C: Writing log instructions  Appendix D: "Talk aloud" instructions  Appendix E: Information sheet for participants  Appendix F: Coding: independently summarizing interviews  Appendix G: Refining start list of codes: an excerpt from the record of disagreements, problems, and action taken  Appendix H: Examples of refinements of the start list of supervisee codes using Word's Track Changes  Appendix I: Final list of codes: supervisee interviews  Appendix J: Final list of codes: supervisor interviews

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Nigel Harwood is reader in applied linguistics at the University of Sheffield. He has edited two volumes focusing on English language teaching materials and textbooks, English Language Teaching Materials: Theory and Practice and English Language Teaching Textbooks: Content, Consumption, Production, and has published articles on EAP and academic writing in various journals, including Journal of Second Language Writing, Written Communication, Journal of Pragmatics, and Journal of English for Academic Purposes. He is the co-editor of the journal English for Specific Purposes.

Bojana Petrić is a senior lecturer in the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck, University of London. She has published in the area of academic writing, particularly source use and citing, in journals such as Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Teaching and Written Communication. She serves as the Deputy Chair of the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing and the Book Review Editor of the Journal of English for Academic Purposes.


‘Harwood and Petrić’s book is a very welcome addition to the literature of research student supervision. Its focus on master’s level supervision is especially welcome given the very large numbers of international students undertaking master’s degrees that require the writing of a dissertation in English. The fine-grained analysis of both students’ and supervisors’ experiences of this are an important strength of the book. The multiple case studies and the longitudinal nature of the research, further, provide the opportunity for detailed observations to be made that are both revealing and important about students’ and supervisors’ experiences.’

Brian Paltridge, Professor of TESOL, University of Sydney

‘This is an interesting and useful book for all supervisors, not just those who supervise international students. Its strength lies in the in-depth interviews, which bring the reader in close contact with very different students and their supervisors at crucial stages of the dissertation process. The case studies also give valuable insight into the problems students experience with academic writing, the varying amounts and forms of feedback supervisors give, and particularly how critical it is for students who don´t understand how to utilize the feedback. This highlights the importance of discovering the student´s real needs, as failure to master academic discourse may jeopardize the whole master project.’

Olga Dysthe, Professor, Department of Education, University of Bergen

‘Experiencing Master’s Supervision reminds us that engaging in research at any level is an inherently uncertain, even risky, business! Through undertaking five case studies that span the life of a UK master’s dissertation, Nigel Harwood and Bojana Petrić explore the manifold pedagogies of supervision in the social sciences and humanities. Their study offers a vivid and detail-rich view of what goes on in master’s research education, especially from an international student’s point of view. The stories in this book flesh out more abstract insights offered elsewhere in ways that will deeply engage readers – supervisors and students alike.’

Barbara M. Grant, Associate Professor, Critical Studies in Education, The University of Auckland, Aotearoa/New Zealand