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Doctoral Supervision in Virtual Spaces: A Review of Research of Web-Based Tools to Develop Collaborative Supervision

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Higher Education Research and Development Volume 35, Number 1, ISSN 0729-4360


Supervision of doctoral students needs to be improved to increase completion rates, reduce attrition rates (estimated to be at 25% or more) and improve quality of research. The current literature review aimed to explore the contribution that technology can make to higher degree research supervision. The articles selected included empirical studies that sought to improve supervision through the use of technology. The literature search focused on technology, supervision and pedagogical supervision, and supervisor-supervisee relationships. Eighteen empirical articles, including Web 2.0 settings, were examined in relation to whether web-based tools could influence the training of doctoral students, be effective in supporting students, and reduce the breakdowns in supervisory relationships. With a few exceptions, these studies showed that Web 2.0 tools enabled greater dialogue and interaction between the student and supervisor rather than a passive viewing of content. They created virtual spaces that combined technology and pedagogy into a process where research projects could be developed in a more collegial and collaborative way. It appeared that combining technology with pedagogy translated into more innovative ways to undertake supervision, particularly participatory supervision. The need for digital pedagogies that facilitate multidimensional changes in higher degree supervision was identified for future research.


Maor, D., Ensor, J.D. & Fraser, B.J. (2016). Doctoral Supervision in Virtual Spaces: A Review of Research of Web-Based Tools to Develop Collaborative Supervision. Higher Education Research and Development, 35(1), 172-188. Retrieved September 24, 2023 from .

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