Perceptions of the Role of Supervisors and the Styles They Assume: A Perspective From Four Professors


  • Oliver Mtapuri


This article argues competence and knowledge on the part of the supervisor, mutual commitment to the project and dedicating time to the project do matter in the execution of Masters and PhD projects. The challenge with Masters and PhD student supervision is assisting the candidate to find that gap in knowledge or theory in order for them to make significant contribution. Different supervisors pursue diverse approaches most of which are based on their own experiences. As such, the guiding philosophy of the supervisor also does matter. In-depth interviews with four Professors were used to collect data. The study adopted a qualitative approach in which four professors who have supervised both Masters and PhD students were purposively sampled. The article argues that a supervisor should provide ?executive coaching? which includes inculcating trust between the parties including understanding the candidate?s personal circumstances. It also argues that Masters and PhD students must be able to work on their own, be self-driven, show initiative and commitment as ultimately the project belongs to them as supervisors are largely facilitators. As a contribution, this article posits a model/framework of a good supervisor who must be understanding, has empathy, contextualises, and is transformative, reflexive, reflective, inclusive, transparent, respectful, professional, expert and a critical thinker; and a good supervisee must be a ?real? academic, independent, a critical thinker, innovative, conceptualises, self-driven, problem solver, hard worker, motivated and committed to his/her project.

DOI: 10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n23p285


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How to Cite

Mtapuri, O. (2014). Perceptions of the Role of Supervisors and the Styles They Assume: A Perspective From Four Professors. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences, 5(23), 285. Retrieved from