Paper 3: Supervision of International Research Students as Intercultural Dialogue
Liang Wang, Tim Lewis, The Open University
This paper is based on work undertaken for the Researching Multilingually project (2012). It pursues the theme of individual responsibility, as articulated by four international students in accounts of their period of study for a research degree in universities in Europe and the UK. In doing so, it attempts to explore a central aspect of the research process: the experience of autonomy in the student-supervisor relationship and how this may vary, according to educational traditions and institutional cultures. These accounts suggest that being “thrown in at the deep end” is unlikely to be the most effective way to develop autonomy.
The paper consequently goes on to propose a possible model for the supervision of international research students, based on Vygotskian (dialogic) and Deweyan (community of inquiry) principles, as articulated by the Canadian educationalist Gordon Wells. This views autonomy in a relational, rather than individualistic light and offers a framework for its development in a supportive environment, based on real questions, co-inquiry and reciprocal learning.