Approaches to Supervision

I am putting this under ‘Research Methods’ although it’s really about supervisory cultures/approaches. I am currently reading the following book:

Lee, Anna (2012!). Successful research supervision: advising students doing research. London and New York, Routledge.

In it, Lee identifies five (potentially interconnected) supervisory approaches as follows:

  1. (institutionally-oriented) functional (relating to Code sof Practice, contractual obligations, organisational matters Panels etc);
  2. supporting enculturation;
  3. developing critical thinking;
  4. enabling emancipation; and
  5. creating a relationship.

For example, under Developing Critical Thinking, she has four aspects:

  • an understanding of different beliefs about knowledge and an ability to assess statements in relation to these beliefs;
  • an ability to define and evaluate the argument in a manner appropriate tro the relevant discipline(s);
  •  an ablity to solve problems in a logical manner;
  • an ability to reflect metacognitively on performance.

I might add more detail to this summary if it is of interest to anyone.

I wonder which of the five approaches you detect in your supervisory relationships? And this matches with what we think we might be doing …..


  • Magda Rostron

    No problem.


  • Richard Fay

    I think that, once I get around to summarising here Lee’s five approaches to supervision, it would indeed be an interesting exercise for each of us (supervisors and doctoral researchers) to think about the status quo as we each perceive it to be in the supervision, to compare these perceptions, and to think about whether or not they need finetuning for either person’s perspective, i.e. I can see quite a bit of value in the kind of writing I think you are keen to undertake, but can I suggest you hold fire unto l I get around to summarising these approaches?

  • Magda Rostron

    Hi Richard,

    It’s an interesting post. I would like to know more what the second supervisory approach entails (supporting enculturation).

    I wanted to comment on what elements of each approach I can spot in my supervisory relationships (as a teacher and student), but I thought I’d hold off for a bit until you gave us a few more details, please, if possible.


  • Richard Fay

    I may then add here some elaborations of these approaches once I have read more about them and digested the ideas sufficiently ….

  • Thanks for sharing this Richard. That’s another book for the wish list 🙂