Aligning student and supervisor perspectives of research challenges

Albertyn, Ruth ; Van Coller-Peter, Salome ; Morrison, John (2016)

CITATION: Albertyn, R., Von Coller-Peter, S. & Morrison, J. 2016. Aligning Student and Supervisor Perspectives of Research Challenges, in M. Fourie-Malherbe, R. Albertyn, C. Aitchison & E. Bitzer. (eds.). Postgraduate Supervision: Future Foci for the Knowledge Society. Stellenbosch: SUN PRESS. 171-187. doi:10.18820/9781928357223/10.

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Chapters in Books

Introduction: The coursework to me was like riding a mountain bike on a mountain bike trail. It was tough at times, but a great adventure. The more you rode, the more skilful you became, both technically and theoretically. The research process for me was like cycling the same mountain bike trail, but on a road bike. It just never really became easy. (Student) This comment illustrates how a student participant in our study vividly distinguished the research experience from the coursework in completing a postgraduate qualification. The challenges experienced with research, and the natural predisposition towards the theoretical and practical course content, play a role in completion rates at master’s or doctoral level. This phenomenon has become a focus of research and sometimes it is referred to as ‘all but dissertation’ or ABD (Blum 2010; Albertyn, Kapp & Bitzer 2008). In some cases, the research component is seen as the ‘necessary evil’ of obtaining the higher degree. A negative attitude to research at the outset could influence students’ engagement with research, their ability to think creatively, and eventually the quality and completion of the research (Kearns, Gardiner & Marshall 2008).

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