Tag Archives: module structure

Distributed teaching on a dissertation module: Taking the load off supervisors

Diarmuid Verrier & Catherine Day

Parallel session 2,  Thunderstorm 2.2

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Short abstract
A description of changes made to the structure of the psychology dissertation module. One-to-one supervision is now supported by lectures, specialist workshops, and drop-in support sessions.

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Detailed Outline
The psychology section of the department of psychology, sociology, and politics, has recently restructured the way teaching is delivered on its dissertation module. In psychology, this dissertation must be an empirical piece of work, typically involving the collection of primary data. In order to make the process of supervision less onerous, and to homogenise the quality of the supervisee experience, the number of hours staff spend on one-to-one meetings with students has been reduced. Instead, students now receive substantial support via lectures, structured group workshops, and drop-in sessions. For example, there are lectures on ethics; drop-in sessions to support students with their analysis (typically done via SPSS); and specialist workshops that deal with data collection in semester 1 (e.g., using online questionnaire software, conducting interviews), and data analysis in semester 2 (including a wide array of qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques). The curriculum and timing of sessions has been designed to provide a coherent and effective package, making sure that students know the skills they need to succeed at their dissertation. It is also necessary that students perceive the provision of support as seamless and generous, a real concern in a context where the NSS is a constant looming presence, and on a module where it would be easy to generate negative comparisons with previous years (e.g., in relation to the reduction in one-to-one hours). This paper will describe the key changes that have been made, discuss its worth as a model for how dissertation modules could be run, and report on student feedback on the module’s debut year.

Question: Is the one-to-one supervisor-supervisee relationship sufficient for dissertation modules?