I enjoyed meeting with several students for different reasons this week. It was nice to "sit on the other side of the supervisory table" and support others with their education. Working towards a doctoral qualification is all about preparing you to be a researcher, and a large part of that often involves being a supervisor.
In this post, I talk about the meetings I had this week and how my own supervision has helped me to support others.
Undergraduate Students - A Supervisory Role
I have assumed a minor supervisory role in helping two undergraduate students with their final year projects, both of which involve using novel technology for people living with dementia. I met with both students this week to talk about my own project and highlight some considerations to keep in mind about this area.
The students had a lot of questions, which I was happy to answer, and I was impressed by how sensitive the students were to the needs of people with dementia. Both students are still early on in their projects and are just starting to look more closely at relevant literature, so I tried to help them focus on pinning down an idea that they want to pursue.
I will continue to meet with the students as and when required, and will be able to provide more technical support when they know what it is they want to develop.
Doctoral Students - A Peer Mentor Role
My other meetings this week were with EngD and PhD students in earlier stages of their programmes, which is part of my peer mentor role. We don't get to see each other very often, so I wanted to make sure to check in at this busy time of year. I was glad to find out that everyone I met was happy with how things are going, even if they do have a lot to do.
The dynamic of these meetings was a lot more informal because we met on a peer-to-peer basis. However, it was still a chance for me to pass on my knowledge and experiences, answer any questions students had, and support them with any problems they wanted to discuss. They even probed me on how my project is going, so it was helpful in both directions!
Learning from My Own Supervision
I am lucky to have four great supervisors, and throughout the week I noticed how I use similar approaches as them when meeting with students in a supporting role. In particular, I try to help students to think about things from a different perspective without necessarily giving them the answer straight away, whilst also giving concrete suggestions when appropriate.
I don't want to get too ahead of myself, though; I wouldn't presume to be able to supervise multiple students for a full project just yet! I am always amazed at how my supervisors are so actively engaged in multiple projects at once. Nevertheless, it was good to be able to work with eager students and help them to focus on what needs to be done and how they might go about it.
In what ways do you support other students with their learning?