Go Away and Think About it” – reflections on cross-cultural supervision

Buckley, Joan (2010) Go Away and Think About it” – reflections on cross-cultural supervision. [Conference Proceedings]


Every year many European universities actively recruit students from non-European markets, with considerable success. The number of non-European students coming to Ireland each year for both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes continues to increase across a variety of disciplines. This paper will focus on doctoral supervision. A considerable amount has been written in other countries on the issue of cross-cultural PhD supervision. Valimaa (1998) argues that all new postgraduate students encounter two new cultures when embarking on graduate study – which he identifies as the discipline-based culture, and the institution-based culture. Chen, Absolom and Holbrook (2003) argue that in addition international students must cope with the differences between the home and host cultures. Their study focuses on Chinese PhD students studying in Australia and indicates these students often experience a considerable change in culture when, as evidenced by their comments: They expected a hierarchical distance to be maintained between student and supervisor They believed that students should never challenge the supervisor’s ideas Their experience was that supervisors did not realize the difficulties students faced and co-operation was a new form of learning for Chinese students. Robinson-Pant (2009) identifies the wide variations in cultural attitudes to the concept of critique, and discusses the differing cultural attitudes to the acceptability of questioning the views of supervisors, and established authorities. A further point many authors have in common is the debate on the extent to which language barriers result in supervisors taking on an additional role as editor for international students, and whether or not this is appropriate. This paper presents a review of this literature and then reflects on the particular experiences of supervising international students in an Irish setting.

[thumbnail of NAIRTL Third Annual Conference ED539248.pdf]
NAIRTL Third Annual Conference ED539248.pdf

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