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A one-day virtual workshop for Cohort Ten fellows’ supervisors took place on March 25, 2021 under the facilitation of the University of the Witwatersrand. The workshop, whose aim was to strengthen supervision capacity was attended by 25 supervisors drawn from the CARTA partner institutions. The discussions ranged from the supervision context in Africa, approaches to supervision, institutional policies on supervision, expectations of supervision and postgraduate literacies.

The workshop allowed the participants to reflect and engage holistically with the process and link their personal experiences to the learning and supervisory processes. We asked the session facilitator, Rajohane Matshedisho from the University of the Witwatersrand, to tell us more about how the workshop went.

As a virtual event, did it meet your expectations, and was the goal fulfilled?

My expectations of the virtual supervisors’ workshop were successfully met. We sustained and engaged with the participants for six hours. We met the goals of teasing out our notions and approaches to supervision, understanding the global supervision context, discussion barriers and enhancement to supervision, shifting from supervision as an industrial input-output model into an interactive institutional model, and outlining postgraduate literacies as part of supervision. I have been doing the workshop for the past four years at the Wits Centre for Learning, Teaching & Development (CLTD). Since the lockdown, I had to modify and adapt three supervision workshops for online platforms. CARTA was the fourth attempt, and it worked seamlessly well.

What do you think was the outcome of the workshop?

The result of the workshop was to allow supervisors to begin the process of introspection and reflection on their supervisory capacities and relationships. The workshop sought to suggest that research supervision is an embodied process mediated by aspects such as one’s cultural values, preferred learning and teaching styles, and past experiences of being a supervisee.

What does it mean for the supervisors to reflect on their supervision skills?

Supervision should not be seen only as a formal, formulaic set of steps to complete a dissertation or thesis. Instead, it should also be viewed as a constant process of transformation and evolution of the self as a supervisor. It is okay for supervisors to think on their toes and negotiate the supervisory relationship with their values, students, and co-supervisors. Moreover, supervision experiences differ from one student to another and from one phase to the other with the same student.

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