ASSIST: A Support System for Supervisor Training

The Initative Team

Initiative Lead
Institute of Technology Carlow

Primary Contact
Daire O'Broin

Initiative Budget


Initiative Type


Supervisors play a pivotal role in supporting students on the research journey (Kiley, 2011). Despite this, many supervisors do not have a clear supervision pedagogy (Paré, 2011; Amundsen and McAlpine, 2011).  Rather, they rely on perceived disciplinary norms, ‘on-the-job’ learning or on their own doctoral experiences (Amundsen and McAlpine, 2011; Kiley, 2011; Aitchinson et al, 2012; González-Ocampo and Castelló, 2018). Moreover, while some UK HEIs offer mandatory training in supervision, in Ireland, CPD in this area tends to be more ad hoc. The consequences of this are two-fold: firstly, once-off training sessions do not necessarily foster deep levels of engagement between supervisors, which is needed if supervisors are to examine their own approaches (Lee, 2007) or create a community of practice. Secondly, short training sessions do not necessarily facilitate a lasting change in practice (Winstone and Boud, 2019).

Using a human-centred design process, this initiative will co-create a digital system with and for research supervisors from Institute of Technology Carlow, Waterford Institute of Technology and other Higher Education Institutions, that will provide them with opportunities for deliberate, scaffolded practice (Eriksson and Pool, 2016) in supervision skills. The proposed digital system will enable them to self-review their supervisory practices and compare these with the reviews of experienced peers and mentors. It will also allow them to monitor their skills over time. Upon design, the system could be integrated into existing training (e.g. Level 9 – Certificate in Research Supervision) and will promote ongoing collaboration between supervisors following the training, thereby strengthening communities of practice.