This research aims to explore the professional identity of supervisors and their perceptions of stress in doctoral learning supervision. The research determines ways of developing strategies of resilience and well-being to overcome stress, leading to positive outcomes for supervisors and students.
Research is in two parts: first, rescrutinising previous work, and second, new interviews with international and UK supervisors gathering evidence of doctoral supervisor stress, in relation to professional identity, and discovering resilience and well-being strategies.
Supervisor professional identity and well-being are aligned with research progress, and effective supervision. Stress and well-being/resilience strategies emerged across three dimensions, namely, personal, learning and institutional, related to emotional, professional and intellectual issues, affecting identity and well-being. Problematic relationships, change in supervision arrangements, loss of students and lack of student progress cause stress. Balances between responsibility and autonomy; uncomfortable conflicts arising from personality clashes; and the nature of the research work, burnout and lack of time for their own work, all cause supervisor stress. Developing community support, handling guilt and a sense of underachievement and self-management practices help maintain well-being.
Only experienced supervisors (each with four doctoral students completed) were interviewed. The research relies on interview responses.
Sharing information can lead to informed, positive action minimising stress and isolation; development of personal coping strategies and institutional support enhance the supervisory experience for supervisors and students.
The research contributes new knowledge concerning doctoral supervisor experience, identity and well-being, offering research-based information and ideas on a hitherto under-researched focus: supervisor stress, well-being and resilience impacting on supervisors’ professional identity.
Wisker, G. and Robinson, G. (2016), "Supervisor wellbeing and identity: challenges and strategies", International Journal for Researcher Development, Vol. 7 No. 2, pp. 123-140. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRD-03-2016-0006Download as .RIS
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