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Collective Academic Supervision

Collective Academic Supervision means joint supervision of students writing different assignments. It is a useful supplement to traditional individual supervision.

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What is collective supervision?

Collective Academic Supervision is characterised by students working on individual assignments being gathered in smaller groups and supervised together. During a course, students regularly meet one or two supervisors per group, and the meetings can be both physical and digital. Key instruments in Collective Academic Supervision are that both the supervisor and the students give and receive feedback (also digitally), supervise each other, engage in a common academic dialogue and act as opponents for each other.

In contrast to group supervision, where students write the same assignment, collective supervision is joint meetings with students who write on different assignments.

Why implement collective supervision?

Traditionally, supervision of bachelor's projects and master's theses takes place as individual supervision. However, individual supervision entails some challenges:

  • Supervision and feedback are one of the most resource-intensive learning activities in higher education
  • The pressure for providing more supervision and feedback has increased concurrently with the increased intake of students
  • Students are asking for more and better feedback/supervision (NOKUT report 2022  in Norwegian)
  • Research shows that the learning potential of individual supervision is rarely fused to the full. Many supervisors feel that their students do not have sufficient ownership of their own projects, and that the students passively wait for the supervisor as an expert to give 'correct' answers in the supervision meetings

Collective supervision is an innovative supervision practice that has proven to be particularly suitable for promoting student-active learning, increasing students' progress in the writing process and creating a more resource-efficient and systematic organisation of supervision.

What are the benefits and challenges of collective academic supervision?

According to research, collective supervision have many benefits:



  • You can use the allocated time for supervision more structured and systematically 
  • You can avoid repetition (you don't have to say the same thing to multiple students)
  • You aren't the only resource for students
  • You get key information about students' understanding of the assignment's criteria when they give each other feedback
  • Start to write earlier and faster
  • Feel less alone with their projects
  • Get feedback from multiple people
  • Learn to recognize and apply the dicipline-specific criteria and academic genre requirements faster
  • Training in scientific argumentation and professional peer-dialogues

For both supervisors and students who are used to individual supervision, the transition to working more collectively can be a large cultural change. Students may especially have challenges seeing the value of spending time on their peers’ projects when they already have a lot to do with their own. In principle, they prefer feedback from the supervisor because the supervisor is defined as the person with the greatest professional competence. Similarly, supervisors may find it challenging to convince students of the value of feedback from fellow students. See specific tips for dealing with these challenges here.



  • Convincing students of the value of peer feedback
  • Dealing with unprepared students
  • Paying double attention to content
    and group dynamics
  • Distributing the speaking time and feedback evenly among students
  • Balancing between providing answers (expert) and involving the students (facilitator).
  • Understanding the value of having to spend time on other students’ projects
  • Providing qualified feedback that is useful to fellow students
  • Having to help fellow students instead of competing with them
  • Having less time with the supervisor ('the expert') one-on-one
  • Presenting unfinished texts because it can feel unsafe


In this video (9 minutes), four master's thesis students talk about their experiences of participating in a collective supervision process at a Danish university:

Need support?

If you would like to try collective supervison, you can:


Books on collective academic supervision


Free online book


Research-based articles on collective supervision


Other resources