Over Mountain Tops and Through the Valleys of Postgraduate Study and Research: A Transformative Learning Experience from Two Supervisees’ Perspectives

Joy Penman, Glenna C Lear
Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology  •  Volume 17  •  2020  •  pp. 001-020

The purpose of this paper is to illuminate the learning that happens in assuming a supervisee’s role during the postgraduate study.

The facilitators and barriers students encountered while pursuing postgraduate studies, strategies to achieve success in postgraduate studies, and how to decrease attrition rates of students, have been sufficiently explored in literature. However, there is little written about the personal and professional impact on students when they are being supervised to complete their postgraduate studies.

Autoethnographic method of deep reflection was used to examine the learning that transpired from the supervisee’s perspective. Two lecturers (a Senior Lecturer in Nursing and an Aboriginal Tutor) focused on their postgraduate journeys as supervisees, respectively, with over 30 years of study experience between them, in Australia and abroad.

Future postgraduate students, researchers, would-be supervisors and experienced supervisors could learn from the reflections of the authors’ postgraduate experiences.

Four themes surfaced, and these were Eureka moments, Critical friend(s), Supervisory relationship, and Transformative learning. The authors highlighted the significance of a supervisory relationship which is key to negotiating the journey with the supervisor. Essential for these students also were insights on finding the path as well as the destination and the transformative aspects that happened as a necessary part of the journey.

Conclusion. The postgraduate journey has taught them many lessons, the most profound of which was the change in perspective and attitude in the process of being and becoming. Personal and professional transformative learning did occur. At its deepest level, the authors’ reflections resulted in self-actualization and a rediscovery of their more authentic selves.

This article highlights the importance of the supervisory relationship that must be negotiated to ensure the success of the candidate. Reflections of the transformation are recommended to support the students further.

Quality supervision can make a significant influence on the progress of students. Further research on the supervisory relationship is recommended.

The support in terms of supervision to ensure postgraduate students’ success is essential. Postgraduate students contribute to the human, social, professional, intellectual, and economic capital of universities and nations globally.

Further reflections of the transformative learning will advance the understanding of the personal and professional changes that occur with postgraduate supervision.

postgraduate study, supervisee, autoethnographic reflection, supervisory relationship, transformation
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