Queen's Gazette | Queen's University

Search form

Positive graduate supervision contributes to student wellbeing

A new series of workshops hosted by the School of Graduate Studies and the Centre for Teaching and Learning is aimed at fostering positive student-supervisor relationships. The first two workshops were held in December and focused primarily on the role of supervisors in the relationship. (Supplied Photo)

The student-supervisor relationship is a key element to graduate student wellbeing and success. Like all relationships this one takes work to ensure that the outcomes are positive and the learning environment is productive.

With this in mind a new series of workshops at Queen’s University is aimed at helping foster the student-supervisor relationship for the betterment of all involved.

A collaboration between the School of Graduate Studies and the Centre for Teaching and Learning, the program features three workshops. The first two were held in December and focused primarily on the role of supervisors in the relationship.

“Focus on Graduate Supervision was designed to support new and junior faculty members, who typically have little to no supervisory experience,” explains Kim McAuley, Associate Dean, School of Graduate Studies.

An important feature of the day-long event was a panel discussion with participation from three award-winning supervisors, who shared knowledge and tips on fostering a positive learning environment through supervision. Panelists for this workshop included, Lynda Jessup (Art History), Julian Barling (Business), and Jean Côté (Kinesiology), as well as three graduate students.

Dr. McAuley emphasizes that new supervisors can learn from colleagues across all disciplines.

“Despite different approaches to supervision across sciences, humanities and social sciences, it is clear that good communication and mutual respect are essential for a productive supervisory relationship,” she says.

The second workshop in the series – Getting the Most out of your Graduate Student – was intended for more experienced supervisors with a focus on supporting students through to time completion. Presenters included Nancy Hutchinson (Education), Peter Hodson (Environmental Studies), and Jim Cordy (Computing), who have all been recognized with the Award for Excellence in Graduate Supervision. The panelists highlighted the importance of engagement, mentoring and support, as well as timelines and timeliness of feedback.

The final workshop – Getting the Most out of your Supervisor: Managing the Supervisory Relationship – will be held Feb. 1 and uses the panel discussion format to a look at the relationship from the viewpoint of a graduate student.  

“We solicited participation from graduate students from varied backgrounds and experiences to speak on students’ responsibilities in creating and fostering positive working relationships with their supervisors," says Sue Fostaty Young, Educational Developer at the Centre for Teaching and Learning. "The Society of Graduate and Professional Students (SGPS) has also been involved and has supplied a variety of true-to-life scenarios for workshop participants to discuss and trouble-shoot.”

To learn more about these workshops and others offered by the School of Graduate Studies visit the Expanding Horizons Professional Development website.