'Collaborative Critique' for Developing Transcultural Research Degree Supervision

University of Adelaide, Australia

University of Adelaide, Australia


Contemporary research degree supervision takes place in complex sociocultural settings. Globalization has increased the cultural, ethnic and linguistic mix of the university, while the massification of higher education has added additional layers of diversity. In doctoral education, with its power and identity sensitivities, this can be a volatile mix, with potential for miscommunication and for disrupting personal relationships.

In this showcase we outline a supervisor development workshop that seeks to equip supervisors with enhanced constructs for operating effectively in such challenging interpersonal environments. Drawing on a form of reciprocal peer-learning that we refer to as 'collaborative critique' (Guerin & Green, 2013), the workshop uses autoethnography to explore the lived experience of those who work and research within a multicultural academic context, and to provide participants with frameworks for understanding connections between outward behaviours and underlying values and intentions.

The supervisor development workshop has evolved from one that focused solely on cross-cultural supervision, taking an 'etic' perspective (Zhu & Bargiela-Chiappini, 2013) to diversity. We are now more 'emic' in approach, with the pertinent cultural, ethnic, linguistic, subcultural etc. categories emerging as appropriate from collegial reflections on shared experience.

Participant evaluation of the workshop is highly favourable overall, although there is a recurring minority objection to being obliged to work from first ethnographic principles. In the showcase we discuss our patchily successful attempts to address these objections, and the context of expectations of staff development and education that surrounds them.

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