Why use fIRST?

The resources on fIRST have been developed to meet a range of learning outcomes desirable for supervisors and research co-ordinators. If you are a co-ordinator, you will find resource that will be useful in developing your own role as wall as constructing  courses for supervisors. If you are a supervisor, you can use fIRST for your own development.

Learning outcomes for supervisors

  • Greater self-awareness of your own conceptions of research and supervisory practice, contextualised by critical engagement with salient and emergent issues in your field of research
  • Understanding what constitutes a productive research learning environment
  • Appreciation of a range of good practice approaches to supervision
  • Extended repertoire of supervisory strategies for critical reflection, situated negotiation, coaching and mentoring
  • Knowledge of institutional requirements and procedures for supervisors and research students, including ethics requirements, occupational health and safety, etc.
  • Practice in evaluating your own efficacy and competency
  • Better interaction and communication skills, e.g., negotiation, giving supportive and challenging feedback, etc.
  • Better understanding and leadership skills for facilitating learning in one-on-one and group settings
  • Experience of and familiarity with the range of IT-mediated communication strategies for supervision on and off campus, e.g., listservs, chatrooms, discussion groups, etc.
  • Knowledge of the literature on supervision pedagogy scholarship and of relevant policy issues in research education
  • Up-to-date knowledge of the expectations of stakeholder groups, e.g., relevant employers, student associations etc., and strategies for maintaining dialogue among stakeholders


  • My research practice, supervisory goals and previous experience as a student and a supervisor
  • The components of a productive research learning environment, on campus or distributed
  • The basic stages and responsibilities of supervising a candidature within reasonable time limits
  • Strategies and structures for negotiating the research student’s program of research and study and the supervisory relationship
  • The pedagogy of supervision
  • Practising interaction and communication skills
  • Leadership and management of research groups and postgraduate research programs

Learning approaches

  • Opportunities for experiential learning, reflection and coaching are made available for supervisors by pairing new supervisors with experienced ones within a structure allowing for feedback and reflection
  • Online access to literature and information regarding institutional requirements
  • Clinical supervision, where new supervisors discuss their relationships and critical incidents with an experienced supervisor in a developmental program
  • Workshops for supervisors, with opportunities to rehearse strategies and discuss them with others
  • Online discussion groups


  • Feedback from students and from senior staff and stakeholders through questionnaires
  • Feedback from focus groups
  • 360° feedback instruments
  • Exit interviews



This framework was originally developed by:
Margot Pearson, Centre for Educational Development and Academic Methods, Australian National University; and
Dr Angela Brew, Institute for Teaching and Learning, The University of Sydney
(Pearson & Brew 2002)

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