"Directing the research of graduate students is the primary point at which the research and teaching missions of the university intersect. Nowhere is instruction more individualized, nowhere is the potential for both satisfaction and frustration greater, and nowhere are the stakes higher…The future health of the discipline, as well as the professional future of the student, depends on the success or failure of this enterprise." [King, M.F. 2003. On the Right Track: A Manual for Research Mentors. Council of Graduate Schools, Washington DC, USA]
Despite the obvious and fundamental importance of effective supervision in the success and experience of graduate students, UBC has had no organized, central mechanism for assisting faculty members to be effective in this role, which is central to the mandate of a world-class, research-intensive university. Likewise, a recent informal survey of graduate advisors in each of the graduate programs at UBC also revealed little in the way of development of new or existing faculty members. At a G+PS forum held in January 2008, graduate advisors from 34 graduate programs identified development of faculty in graduate supervision as one of their key needs, and requested that G+PS provide this. In the most recent Canadian Graduate and Professional Student Survey report, between 10 and 24% of graduate student respondents did not believe that their supervisor had performed well in the 13 indicators of effective mentoring activities.
G+PS is addressing this critical need in partnership with the Center for Teaching and Academic Growth, the Graduate Student Society, and UBC faculty members. We have developed a workshop for faculty members on graduate supervision with new faculty in mind, or those new to UBC. The workshop covers the fundamentals of effective graduate supervision, including:
- Getting Started
- elements of excellent graduate supervision
- effective recruiting and selecting of graduate students
- Building a Strong Student – Supervisor Relationship
- establishing communication, discussing expectations
- preventing and solving problems
- Maintaining Momentum
- the work plan, identifying and achieving milestones, assessing academic progress
- dealing with crises and program interruptions, maintaining motivation
- Preparing for the Future
- career mentoring, professional skills development, the future relationship
We hope that this program will assist faculty members in developing effective supervisory skills and result in measurable, incremental improvements in graduate student supervision at UBC.
For information on the workshops, contact Anne Murphy, Associate Dean, Faculty and Program Development, UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.