College of Education

Guidance on supervising M and D students

On 31 May 2012, CEDU’s Office of Research & Graduate Studies held a workshop with a focus on different approaches that supervisors can use to supervise Master’s and Doctoral students. In order to enhance the knowledge and skills for supervising M & D students, Prof Norma Romm, a newly appointed research professor in the College, facilitated the discussions by inviting attendees to share their experiences. By means of these examples, new ways were suggested to address a variety of challenges that confront academics daily.

(Back from left) Dr MT Gumbo, Prof ER Mathipa, Dr NR Raselekoane, Dr N Nkopodi, Prof CA Jansen, Mrs SM Matlabe, Mr A Arko-Achemfuor, Dr S Shava. (Front, from left) Ms KJ Karel, Mr AV Mudau, Mrs MM Letseka, Prof Kofi Poku Quan-Baffour, Prof Norma Romm, Mrs Tertia Horne from the Computer Science Department, Mr GP Baloyi, Dr QK Semuli, Prof MM Nieman, Dr Ranko-Ramaili

Emerging and experienced supervisors discussed how to best use quantitative and qualitative research methods (sometimes in conjunction) for a study. “There is no one correct way of doing research; what is important is that a researcher has to justify their research approach based on the research topic” says Prof Romm. The primary role of supervisors should be to assist students to:

  • locate a gap in a research field that can be (further) explored,
  • guide students to improve their research projects,
  • identify under-researched areas,
  • help students to consider suitable ways of addressing them, and
  • focus on socially meaningful research projects.

As an important thought, Prof Romm reminded the workshop participants that research and the write-up thereof should be done with humility. This implies recognising that the research “results” which appear will be a product of the way the researcher has posed questions (focussing in a particular way on issues), and has developed a strategy to address the issues. The “results” are therefore a product of the particular research endeavour, and should be acknowledged as such.

Mr GP Baloyi, a lecture at the Department of Adult Basic Education, commented afterwards that: “As an emerging researcher, I feel motivated and rearing to go an extra mile to successfully guide and support the students in using qualitative and quantitative research in their study. The impression that I got from the presentation is that the researcher can use qualitative and quantitative approaches to supplement each other. We can use qualitative to explain the quantitative numbers very interestingly to make a rich report”.  Another participant, Dr Jaynie Abdurahman mentioned that the way in which Prof Romm managed to intersperse her slide material with the questions asked and issues raised by the audience, made the experience “live” and interesting – and made the learning “stick”.

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