Wednesday, September 05, 2012

What is a Statement of Supervisory Expectations/Philosophy?

For the course in research supervision I am undertaking, I am required to prepare a 2,000 word Statement of Supervisory Expectations or Statement of Philosophy, or an "OLT Citation for Research Supervision", in the format of an application for an OLT Award.

However, the terms "Statement of Supervisory Expectations", "Statement of Philosophy" and "Application for OLT Citation" are terms I was not previously familiar with. No documents entitled "Statement of Supervisory Expectation" were found with a search of the ANU and Macquarie University web sites.

The only "Statement of Philosophy" found at the ANU is part of an unusual course description for MGMT7030 "Management and Organisations" which includes the line "To err is human; to arrghh is pirate!".

The statements I have been able to find appear to have some elements of a course description, a CV and a marketing brochure.

The OLT guidelines for Citations for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, appear to be for university teaching, with no mention of supervision.

A search for the term "Statement of Supervisory Expectations" in Google scholar found no instances. A search of all web pages found seven instances, three of which are from the description of the course I am undertaking. The remainder were on US banking law, and US military training document from 1971, which did not appear to be relevant to research supervision.

A search of Google Scholar for "Statement of Philosophy" was more successful, with about 2,500 documents found. A search of the web for ["Statement of Philosophy" doctoral research supervision] produced 72,000 results. The first was EDUC8004. The second were the "Policy and Procedures for Higher Education Academic Promotions" (Victoria University, 2010) which require an application for promotion to include: "A succinct statement of philosophy of service and its fit to the strategic directions of the University".

Wilma s. Reyes 2011 thesis cites as one of the strength's of Oliva’s Model (1992) "The model requires a statement of philosophy that is extremely important.". Unfortunately it is not clear what work the citation is for, as it does not match any reference in the thesis.

The "Faculty Job Postings" for Lawrence Technological University (2012) for an Assistant Professor position require a "statement of teaching philosophy and research interests" for one position, whereas another requires a "statement of philosophy", followed by "teaching goals". Dr Gauld, Principal/CEO of Macquarie Education Group Australia Pty Ltd has a "Statement of my ESL Teaching Philosophy" (2012):

"My practising, organising principle is themes, using a text-based, task-based, content-based, mixed/multi-syllabus. I provide tasks that encourage interaction and, through it, negotiation for meaning, using communicative methodology and rationalist/humanistic theory, based on cognitive psychology. ..."

This suggests that perhaps the statement of philosophy derives from teaching practice, rather than research supervision and is intended to outline the teacher's general approach. However, what is unclear is who the intended audience is for these statements. Some appear explicitly required for a application for a position and so are aimed at a selection committee. Others appear to be intended for prospective students. But the title "Statement of Philosophy" would be meaningless to most students and the jargon filled language of the statement would difficult to understand, even for those having the same first language as the author. My difficulty in finding these statements, or explanations of what they are for, suggests they would be of little value in attracting students.

It would be interesting to see if there is any research on the effectiveness of statements of philosophy: Are students aware such statements exist? Do students read them? Do they influence the student to sign up, or do they discourage the student?

No comments: