Choosing a supervisor


Now as a recently qualified supervisor, I have potential students approaching me. How do I communicate the enormity of choosing a supervisor? I remember, early on as a potential student myself, being very stuck on just ‘finding someone to take me on’, someone prepared to have me as a student, someone who would say ‘yes’. Alma Fleet reflects on this, in ‘Re-becoming a supervisor: Extending possibilities’ when she talks about her own experience of choosing a supervisor:

‘I had chosen him on the recommendations of a respected colleague, without fully understanding the process, or the importance of that decision’ (2008, p. 262).

Unfortunately, that didn’t go well, but she feels she was left with a legacy of pursuing being an excellent supervisor herself. Maybe one of the most important skills of supervison, though, is perceiving from the outset who you are likely to, or not likely to form a responsive and productive relationship with. Maybe sometimes the best supervisor is the one who knows when to say ‘no’, especially when there are institutional pressures to take on students. This link to a post by Kirsty Nash, on Inger Mewburn and Evonne Miller’s new Supervision Whisperers blog flips it over and describes how to choose a student: https://thesupervisionwhisperers: Choosing a student: Likes long walks on the beach

Fleet, A. (2008). Re-becoming a supervisor: Extending possibilities. In J. G. Knowles, S. Promislow, & A. L. Cole (Eds.), Creating scholartistry: Imagining the arts-informed thesis or dissertation (pp. 84-104). Nova Scotia: Backalong Books.



Author: Lucinda McKnight

Dr Lucinda McKnight is a lecturer in curriculum and pedagogy at Deakin University. She has a BA in Fine Arts, Women's Studies and English from the University of Melbourne, an MA (Distinction) in Media, Culture and Communication, from the Institute of Education now at UCL, and a PhD in Education from Deakin University. Her cartoons have appeared in a number of publications, including Farrago and Health Voice. She has exhibited her artwork at Museum Victoria and the Victorian College of the Arts.

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