Effective questions in supervision

I tweeted a while ago to ask supervisors and students what they had found were the most useful questions to ask/be asked in supervision. So here are some suggestions from them and from me.  Please do add comments with any others you have found useful (as a student or as a supervisor).

  • Tell me what you’ve been reading lately – and what have you learned from it?
  • What do you mean by… (e.g. ‘identity’, or ‘learning’, or ‘care’)?  How do you understand it?
  • What is your line of argument in this piece of writing?
  • Why have you done/are you going to do this?
  • What appeals to you about ‘X’ theorist’s work? Does it resonate in any ways with your data?
  • How does that idea fit with your theory?
  • Explain that idea in your own words.
  • Explain your analysis step-by-step.
  • Have you thought about other ways of analysing your data?
  • What is your interpretation of the literature/the data?
  • How did you come to this conclusion?
  • How might you be able to develop/expand these ideas/this line of argument further? [if work is too narrow-visioned]
  • How can you streamline your work? [if work is ‘flabby’]
  • Are you coping?  Are you happy with progress?
  • What are you going to do before the next supervision? [goal-setting]
  • How can I support you?
  • How is the supervision going for you?  Is there anything I can do that would be more helpful?

And yes, from one wag:  “Would you like a coffee?”

Thanks to: Melinda Miller, Hannah Perrin, Abbey Diaz, Olga Solugub, Sarah Fox, Alessia Williams for their responses

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