Speaking of Supervision: A dialogic approach to building higher degree research supervision capacity in the creative arts

Jillian Hamilton and Sue Carson
Vol 34, Number 1, p.87
In the emergent field of creative practice higher degrees by research, first generation supervisors have developed new models of supervision for an unprecedented form of research, which combines creative practice and a written thesis. In a national research project, entitled ‘Effective supervision of creative practice higher research degrees’, we set out to capture and share early supervisors’ insights, strategies and approaches to supporting their creative practice PhD students. From the insights we gained during the early interview process, we expanded our research methods in line with a distributed leadership model and developed a dialogic framework. This led us to unanticipated conclusions and unexpected recommendations. In this study, we primarily draw on philosopher and literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin’s dialogics to explain how giving precedence to the voices of supervisors not only facilitated the articulation of dispersed tacit knowledge, but also led to other discoveries. These include the nature of supervisors’ resistance to prescribed models, policies and central academic development programmes; the importance of polyvocality and responsive dialogue in enabling continued innovation in the field; the benefits to supervisors of reflecting, discussing and sharing practices with colleagues; and the value of distributed leadership and dialogue to academic development and supervision capacity building in research education.