Developing a supervisor identity through experiential learning

Narratives of three interdisciplinary novice academics working in a South African University

Keywords: supervision, novice supervisor, experiential learning, narrative inquiry, role identity


One of the critical tasks of academics in any research intensive university is the supervision of postgraduate students. Given the central role of this activity, how novice academics’ learn the supervision is significant. This paper was co-authored by three interdisciplinary novice academics in a research-intensive university, specifically in its school of education. The paper focuses on the novice supervisors’ learning of their supervision role. Through the narrative inquiry methodology, the narratives of the three participating novice supervisors, who are also co-authors of this paper, were solicited and examined. The study found the participating novice supervisors playing a proactive role in exploring different sources to harness knowledge pertaining to supervision. This proactive role was effective in enabling full control over their learning and cognition of themselves as supervisors, which in turn enhanced their ability to learn the role.

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