Jan 31, 2022

Research supervision and mentoring practices: Ensuring support and building resilience of doctoral researchers during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond


A previous WUN PhD training session at Maastricht University
Photo: Herman Pijpers

The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted university students worldwide. Campus closures have resulted in a transition to online platforms and remote provision of learning, teaching and assessment, as well as the suspension or even discontinuation of many research projects due to pandemic-related restrictions.

The aim of the research is to identify and analyze how PhD students and their supervisors, from a range of diverse institutional, disciplinary, and social contexts, have managed (or not) the impact of the pandemic and in what contexts resilience was observable.

The main research questions the project addresses are:

  1. How were PhD supervision and mentoring practices impacted across the globe and in different university settings during the pandemic?
  2. What are the perceptions of PhD students and supervisors regarding effective supervision and mentoring practices in different blended learning environments induced by COVID-19 pandemic?
  3. In which ways have shifts to online and blended educational processes during the COVID-19 pandemic benefitted or harmed PhD student research productivity, research engagement and/or motivation with their studies?
  4. Which supervision and mentoring practices and support interventions have supported resilience in PhD students?
  5. Do perceptions on which supervision and mentoring practices are effective and understandings of what constitutes positive research outcomes differ between PhD students and their supervisors?

The research will use a mixed method, including

  • a quantitative survey
  • interviews or focus groups with PhD students to explore and deepen our understanding on factors in supervision and mentoring contribution to higher or lower resilience in students.
  • interviews of PhD students and their supervisors to explore the differences in perceptions when zooming into most critical/challenging situations

Who's involved

Dr Mindel van de Laar, Maastricht University (PI)

Dr Linlin Xu, The University of Auckland

Mr Gwadabe Kurawa, University of Bristol

Professor Richard Watermeyer, University of Bristol

Adamu Sadat Bole, University of Ghana

Dr Mary Ani-Amponsah, University of Ghana

Dr Kingsley Ofosu-Ampong, University of Ghana

Professor Luke Windsor, University of Leeds

Dr Oksana Celbis, Maastricht University, Maastricht University

Jairaj Gopalakrishnan, Maastricht University

Dr Robert Wamala, Makerere University

Professor Tzen-Yuh Chiang, National Cheng Kung University

Dr Vassiliki Papatsiba, University of Sheffield

Professor Kathryn Arnold, University of York

Dr Karen Clegg, University of York

Dr Shifei Duan, Zhejiang University