Effective PhD Supervision – Chapter Four – Coaching: Charting your own Path

4.1  Introduction

The PhD researcher is immersed in a ‘writing-centred pedagogy’ that requires critique and encouragement from experienced researchers. While writing is central to the research process, so is thinking, imagining and relating. The learning and teaching strategies needed in supervision are varied and complex – even ‘chaotic’! These supervision interactions ideally stretch and support the PhD researcher, whilst enriching and expanding the world of the supervisor. Painted with such broad brush strokes the enterprise promises colour and boldness – but it also requires finesse, detailed attention and precision of focus.

An interesting parallel to the qualities needed in the research journey are those needed by accomplished scientists. Fensham, in interviews with leading scientists in China, distinguishes the characteristics needed to succeed in both independent research and in science. These include (in order of priority): creativity, personal interest in the topic, perseverance, desire to inquire, ability to communicate, social concern and team spirit. It is particularly these qualities, on the one hand, that mentoring and coaching focus on. Supervision, on the other hand, takes greater responsibility for the formal managing of the degree process, quality checking and teaching. Whilst workshops and programmes for PhD students usually provide formal training in the academic content towards thesis production, mentoring and coaching fosters qualities essential in a scientist, researcher and intellectual. A holistic approach takes into account the complexity of a large research project.

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Effective PhD Supervision – Chapter Six – A Holistic Approach to PhD Support


6.1  Mentoring and Coaching: Complementary Resources

‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’

‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

‘I don’t much care where –’ said Alice.

‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

6.2  Comparing Supervision, Coaching and Mentoring in Practice

6.2.1  Gaining competence

Supervision of a PhD candidate has been described in terms of models, personality, formal institutional structures and contract agreements. Supervision is often learnt through experience: one’s own – from having been supervised, from external examination of theses, from serving on post-graduate committees, from participating in PhD student-presentation sessions, from sitting in on a PhD student’s advisory committee, from serving on post-graduate committees, from co-supervision with a more experienced academic and from supervising different students. Supervision skills are also developed from workshops on supervision and through reading ‘how-to’ books or research into PhD work. A supervisor also draws on a certain amount of pedagogic content knowledge as well as, of course, discipline content knowledge.

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Effective PhD Supervision – Chapter Seven – Bibliography and Recommended Reading

The books, journals and related resources listed below have played an important role in the compilation of this handbook and many have proven to be invaluable in our day-to-day interactions with postgraduate students.

Argyris, Chris; Schön, Donald A. (1974) Theory in practice: Increasing professional effectiveness. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. ISBN 0875892302, 9780875892306

‘This book is a landmark in two fields. It is a practical guide to the reform of professional education. It is also a beacon to theoretical thinking about human organizations, about their interdependence with the social structure of the professions, and about theory in practice.’ — Journal of Higher Education.

Badenhorst, Cecile. (2006) The Scribe’s Journey. New Voices Publishing, Cape Town, South Africa. ISBN-13: 978-1-920094-30-0

The Scribe’s Journey contains over 150 writing exercises. Each one is designed to take you away from the world of to-do lists, priorities and products, and into the realm of possibilities, exploration and colour. The writing activities will tap into your creative source and begin to free your mind from the restrictions and limitations which so often accompany writing tasks. Whether you write reports at work, or poetry, or family histories, this book will help you write with a fresh eye.

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Effective PhD Supervision – Appendices and Acknowledgments


Sanpad and its RCI programme

Anshu Padayachee

Having examined the statistical, demographic and institutional and equity characteristics of the cohort the outputs the research findings were as follows:

-The total cohort number under investigation stands at 191.

– All in all there have been 127 Ph.D.’s confirmed.

– This means that more than 1 in 2 cohorts graduated with a Ph.D. during the period under investigation.

– This also means that in a period of seven years, 16 Ph.D.’s were produced per year.

In terms of social categories the percentages of Ph.D. graduates  21 % were African females, 20%, African males, 17% Coloured females 1% Coloured males, 8% Indian females, 2% Indian males, 19% White females  and 11.5% White males.

41% of the graduates were African, 19 % were coloured, 12.5% were Indian and 30, 5 % were Whites. In terms of gender 65% were females and 35% males.

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Governance and Development in Southern Africa – Development Policy Review Network


wiki common

On 13 November 2007, some thirty Dutch and South African practitioners, policy makers and academics, all working on the subject of governance and development in southern Africa, came together for a day of discussions. Although all grappling with similar subjects in their respective professional lives, these three groups of professionals seldom meet each other in forums that are explicitly designed to foster debates and cooperation across the professional boundary lines.

The Proceedings from the Third DPRN regional expert meeting on Southern Africa (2007 – published 2010) .

1. John Belt and Marja Spierenburg – Public-private partnerships in rural development. Downplaying the role of politics and power relations

2. Henk Molenaar and Marjoke Oosterom – Negotiating knowledges for development

3. Anshu Padayachee and Ashwin Desai – Post-apartheid South Africa and the crisis of expectation

4. David Sogge, Bob van der Winden and René Roemersma – Civil domains and arenas in Zimbabwean settings. Democracy and responsiveness revisited.

5. Paul Hebinck, Derick Fay and Kwandiwe Kondlo – Land and agrarian reform in South Africa: Caught by continuities

6. Jan Kees van Donge and Melle Leenstra – Donors and governance in Southern Africa. The case of Zambia, with Zimbabwe as a counterpoint.


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Public-Private Partnerships in Rural Development, Downplaying the Role of Politics and Power Relations – DPRN Two


wiki common

Public Private Partnerships, or PPPs, are increasingly popular in the field of international development cooperation and sustainable development. Though PPPs are not a new phenomenon (see Linder 1999), their popularity in policy circles has steadily augmented since the late 1980s (Entwistle and Martin 2005) to a point where their promotion seems to have become a dominant ‘development narrative’ (cf. Roe 1991; 1995). PPPs are promoted as the most logical solution to a variety of service delivery and development problems, and are often presented as ‘technical’, politically neutral solutions (cf. Ferguson 1990). Nevertheless, the promotion and development of PPPs has a distinct ideological background and flavour (Linder 1999; Entwistle and Martin 2005). PPP’s present popularity followed after their (re-)introduction in the wake of the wave of privatisation of government institutions by conservative governments in Europe and the US – notably the Reagan administration and Thatcher’s government – in the 1980s. The idea of the need for the privatisation of government services was exported to developing countries through the many Structural Adjustment Programmes enforced by the IMF and supported by the World Bank. PPPs were considered ‘softer’ versions of the same process (Entwistle and Martin 2005) that would have less dramatic social consequences and therefore would be more palatable to the general public. Subsequently, New Labour stressed the partnership idea in PPPs, and the influence it is supposed to accord not only to the corporate sector, but also to civil society organisations (ibid.). However, there is an ongoing debate about whether the growing influence of civil society organisations is a counterpoint to the neo-liberal approach, as Escobar (1995) argues, or whether this is part and parcel of a neo-liberal approach (see e.g. Levine 2002). Read more

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