Encouraging Dialogue in Doctoral Supervision: The Development of the Feedback Expectation Tool

Elke Stracke, Vijay Kumar
International Journal of Doctoral Studies  •  Volume 15  •  2020  •  pp. 265-284

This paper introduces the Feedback Expectation Tool (FET) as an easy-to-use and flexible pedagogical tool to encourage dialogue on feedback between supervisors and candidates. The main aim of this pedagogical innovation is to allow negotiation to understand expectations and establish boundaries through transparent practices.

Feedback is a key element of learning and development and vital to developing scholarship. The literature indicates that supervisors and candidates often have different expectations about feedback. We developed the FET as a tool to encourage dialogue on feedback between supervisors and candidates so that they could understand each other’s expectations, negotiate, and work together in the most beneficial way possible.

We sought qualitative survey data from doctoral supervisors and candidates attending two universities. Participants identified key issues they faced with feedback. Based on current literature, qualitative survey data, and our insights as feedback researchers and academic developers, we developed a list of 13 conflicting statements. From this, we created the FET.

This paper shows how the FET evolved as an educational, developmental tool. It includes the tool (the FET) for easy and immediate use by supervisors and candidates. The FET makes an innovative pedagogical contribution to supervision practice and the wider body of knowledge around these practices.

The paper presents and discusses the 13 FET statements that are the synthesized result of the literature review, the analysis of the qualitative survey data, and our experience. Each statement has contradictions that offer opportunities for dialogue between the supervisor and the candidate.

Supervisors can use the FET successfully as a pedagogical tool when talking with their doctoral candidates. Every supervisor and candidate will use the FET in a way that works best for them both.

Researchers could conduct studies in other research sites and countries and in specific disciplines. These studies would help us better understand the FET as a pedagogical tool so we could develop it further.

The FET is designed to help learning take place. It achieves this by creating a common understanding of the complexities in the feedback process. To keep up with ongoing changes in society in general, and in Higher Education and doctoral education in particular, we present the FET as a living document.

The authors are conducting follow-up research to discover how useful the FET is as a tool to help achieve more open and collegial feedback practices in doctoral supervision.

dialogue, doctoral supervision, expectations, feedback, Feedback Expecta-tion Tool (FET)
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