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?
BENEFITS FOR THE SUPERVISOR
BENEFITS FOR THE STUDENTS
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.
CHALLENGES FOR THE SUPERVISOR
CHALLENGES FOR THE STUDENTS
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:
If you would like to try collective supervison, you can:
- See our tips and tricks to get started here
- Get feedback on your process by Gitte Wichmann-Hansen, who is affiliated with USN as an expert on the project Collective Academic Supervision - a student-active form of learning
- Read more under resources
Books on collective academic supervision
- Nexø Jensen, H. (2015). Opgave- og skrivevejledning i klynger. Håndbog for undervisere og vejledere på videregående uddannelser. Forlaget Samfundslitteratur.
- Nordentoft, H.M., Hvass, H., & Mariager Anderson, K. (2019). Kollektiv Akademisk Vejledning Fra forskning til praksis. Aarhus Universitetsforlag.
- Rienecker, L., Wichmann-Hansen, G., & Jørgensen, P.S. (2019). God vejledning af specialer, bacheloropgaver og projekter. Forlaget Samfundslitteratur. Se kapitel 15: ”Kollektiv vejledning” s. 197-206
Free online book
- Nordentoft, H.M., Mariager-Anderson, K., & Smedegaard, A. (2016). Kollektiv akademisk vejledning. En introduktion, DPU, AU
Research-based articles on collective supervision
- Agné, H., & Mörkenstam, U. (2018) Should first-year doctoral students be supervised collectively or individually? Effects on thesis completion and time to completion. Higher Education Research & Development, 37(4), 669-682
- Dysthe, O., Samara, A., & Westrheim, K. (2006). Multivoiced supervision of Master’s students: a case study of alternative supervision practices in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 31(3): 299-318
- Hyldegård, J. S., & Jensen, H. N. (2020). Klyngevejledning som driver for specialestuderendes videnskabelsesproces. Dansk Universitetspædagogisk Tidsskrift, 15(29), 87–104.
- Niclasen, J. (2016). Klyngevejledning af specialestuderende. Dansk Universitetspædagogisk Tidsskrift, 11(21), 177–186.
- Nordentoft, H.M., Thomsen, R., & Wichmann-Hansen, G. (2013). Collective academic supervision: a model for participation and learning in higher education. Higher Education, 65(5): 581–93
- Thomsen, R., & Nordentoft, H.M. (2012). Kollektiv akademisk vejledning: et bud på en ændret organisering af vejledningen på universitetet. Dansk Universitetspædagogisk Tidsskrift, 7(12), 106-116.
- Wichmann-Hansen, G., Thomsen, R., & Nordentoft, H.M. (2015). Challenges in Collective Academic Supervision: supervisors’ experiences from a Master Programme in Guidance and Counselling. Higher Education, 70(1): 19-33.
- Wichmann-Hansen, G., Jensen, T.W., & O’Toole, M.S. (2020) ”Den varme stol”. En model for peer-feedback i kollektiv vejledning. Dansk Universitetspædagogisk Tidsskrift, 28, 71-85