ERIC Number: EJ680989
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2004-Nov-1
Academic Supervision: Seeking Metaphors and Models for Quality
Journal of Further and Higher Education, v28 n4 p395-405 Nov 2004
This paper explores the idea that conceptualizing academic supervision (at Honours or graduate level) as a fiduciary relationship can assist supervisors in enhancing student learning through quality decision-making. In this paper I reflect on my conceptions of supervision in the light of the growing scholarship on supervision. My conceptions of academic supervision affect my practices as a supervisor. I use my conceptions and experiences of the supervision process to draw conclusions about the 'best practice' of supervision. These conclusions about best practice are partial in the sense that they are justified by past experiences, mine and those of others. More is needed to assist supervisors to deliver good quality supervision within a complex relationship where future issues are hard to predict. As a solicitor and legal academic I have been exposed to the 'professional-client' relationship and to the literature on metaphors and models for such a relationship. The literature on academic supervision suggested to me that the professional-client relationship and the supervision relationship were similarly perceived. Metaphor is used as a device to understand complexity and to provide a model for decision-making that, it is argued, will facilitate quality learning outcomes within the supervision relationship. In the fiduciary metaphor the focus is on a relationship which is essentially an ethical one of promoting the welfare of the student. The effectiveness and continuance of the relationship depends on trust. Differentials in knowledge and power are respected but not exploited. Those with greater knowledge and power have correspondingly greater obligations. The language is that of mutual responsibilities and obligations rather than rights. This is contrasted with paternalism, a widespread metaphor within the professions generally, which disempowers and marginalizes.
Descriptors: Supervisors, Figurative Language, Supervisory Methods, Models, Quality Control, Decision Making, Supervisor Supervisee Relationship, College Students, Higher Education, Academic Advising
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
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