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South African Journal of Science

On-line version ISSN 1996-7489
Print version ISSN 0038-2353


GROSSMAN, Elly S.  and  CROWTHER, Nigel J.. Co-supervision in postgraduate training: Ensuring the right hand knows what the left hand is doing. S. Afr. j. sci. [online]. 2015, vol.111, n.11-12, pp.1-8. ISSN 1996-7489.

South Africa is experiencing a steep rise in postgraduate candidature and a backlog in research training and supervision. Co-supervision is a means to address such challenges. This study investigated how co-supervision could effectively and efficiently be implemented within a Faculty of Health Sciences. Supervisors and postgraduates brainstormed co-supervisory practice to identify: (1) the reasons for co-supervision, (2) what co-supervisors should discuss to facilitate their interactions and (3) how best to initiate the novice supervisor into supervisory practice. Co-supervisors are formally appointed for different reasons and all co-supervisory activities should be directed towards meeting the purpose of that appointment. Points to consider in facilitating a co-supervisor memorandum of understanding and novice supervisor training were discussed. Our findings provide suggestions to develop accountable co-supervisory practices, enhance novice supervisor training and to design discipline-specific best practice policy at institutional level to enable a common understanding of co-supervisory roles and responsibilities. Threats to effective co-supervision identified were the implications of co-supervision in staff promotion, inequitable workload recognition and no official acknowledgement of informal supervisory activities. Unless these issues are addressed, the full potential of co-supervision will remain unrealised. Supervision pedagogy and research teaching is a sophisticated skill worthy of professionalisation.

Keywords : research higher degrees; novice supervision; cross-discipline; health science; contracts.

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