Building productive working relationships

A guide for facilitators of workshops for supervisors and research students
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Workshop introduction

Building Productive Working Relationships helps research students and their supervisors begin discussions about key supervision issues. The focus of the workshop is the communication strategies used, and not what is actually discussed.

The workshop uses ‘pyramid’ discussions, debriefing, language transcripts and a questionnaire to raise awareness of what can help or hinder effective communication. This is particularly vital when the supervision relationship involves people from different cultural and language backgrounds.

The workshop aims to:

  • provide supervisors and their students with a shared experience on which to build a productive working relationship
  • explore the issue of power and authority in one-to-one communication, and how it’s expressed and perceived, particularly in cross-cultural situations
  • offer new research students strategies for negotiating their supervision

List of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Aims of the workshop
  3. Conducting a pyramid discussion: general instructions
      1. Preparation
      2. Procedure
      3. Instruction sheet for participants
      4. Three sample tasks
        1. The supervisor/student relationship
        2. What makes a successful researcher?
        3. Outcomes of international postgraduate education

4. Workshop plan

A. Who, when and why?
B. Suggested timetable
C. Detailed advice for facilitators

          1. First pyramid discussion
            – Choice of topic
            – Giving instructions
            – Debriefing on process in separate groups
            – Debriefing on content in combined groups
          2. Second pyramid discussion
            – Choice of topic
            – Giving instructions
            – Debriefing on content
            – Debriefing on process
          3. Transcript extracts to highlight cross-cultural communication issues
            – Extract 1
            – Extract 2
            – Transcript conventions
          4. Comments on extracts
          5. Expectations questionnaire
            – The Adelaide University questionnaire

 D. References


This workshop guide was originally developed by:
Kate Cadman and Margaret Cargill
for the Integrated Learning Program, Adelaide University

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