Researchers shine light on supervisory feedback practices

03 August 2021

Providing effective feedback to postgraduate research students is often a challenge for their supervisors.

In a new research paper' a team of multidisciplinary researchers from CQUniversity with a common interest in research supervision have published their findings on supervisory feedback to postgraduate research students in the Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education journal.

The team led by Dr Ritesh Chugh and accompanied by Dr Stephanie Macht and Professor Bobby Harreveld' said that feedback should be learner-centred' focused on improvements and actionable.

However' they said that providing feedback to postgraduate research students was a complex issue' with many variables to consider including the candidate' stage of candidature' type of candidature' course enrolment' supervisory position' supervisory team and mandatory and optional research tasks.

"Hence' an examination of feedback practices was required to understand the problems and identify improvements'" Dr Chugh explained.

Their review of the literature' which has been published over the past decade' identified problems that students encountered in feedback from supervisors' outlined positive feedback strategies used by supervisors and suggested improvements to the feedback process.

'Four key problems were identified when giving and receiving feedback: content' process' people' expectations.

'Feedback strategies that positively impacted learning and teaching capabilities of both students and supervisors were identified as most effective.

'Managing expectations before providing feedback was found to be a significant positive strategy.

'Improvements to the feedback process were canvassed through the three key actors of institutions' supervisors and students.'

The research team hopes the findings will enrich the understanding of supervisory feedback strategies to inform and improve practice.

Published by Routledge Taylor and Francis Group' the Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education journal is a highly regarded journal in the education discipline' ranked 44/1319 by Scopus.

Dr Chugh said research students and supervisors should work together to identify shortcomings in feedback' be open and transparent and understand each other's perspectives.

"Research higher degree students' their supervisors and research administrators are urged to read this open-access paper.'