Student-supervisor relationship panel sees pointed discussion 

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A student and a professor sit together to chat over coffee surrounded by plants on a blue background.
Your supervisor did what? Spill the tea! mohamed_hassan via Pixabay manipulated by Lee Lim

Tips and tricks for the best communication between advisors and graduate students

by pall agarwal, contributor

Research is an essential element for a student pursuing a master’s degree or PhD. The University of Regina has a lot to offer in terms of research, and once explored, there’s a long way to go. A student might face obstacles like maintaining a long-standing, healthy relationship with a supervisor.  

In partnership with the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School’s Student Association, Anastasiia Sheichuk hosted a panel discussion called ‘Student Supervisor Relationships 101’ to help students learn how to maintain student-professor relationships. Sheichuk is currently pursuing a master’s in public policy and is on the University of Regina Students’ Union’s board of directors, representing graduate students. The panel discussion was held at the University of Regina College Avenue campus, and students from all walks of life attended this event to learn how to build a productive relationship with their supervisors which is integral for the success of their research. 

The panel discussion emphasised the importance of effective communication skills in research, especially in the early stages to set up clear goals and mutual expectations. Meeting a shared goal of bridging the knowledge gap and promoting equity and inclusion, Sheichuk eventually mastered this skill and found it great to help other students out in this journey. In a recent conversation with her, she shared from personal experience how challenging it can be to build a productive relationship with a supervisor without a knowledge base on how to do it, which most students are not given. She mentioned how the quality of research diminishes if the researcher has to waste their energy on miscommunication struggles with their supervisor instead of spending the time required for research. 

The panel discussion covered how important it is that the student-supervisor relationship be healthy and supportive, as it can result in a win-win situation for everyone involved. This could also help in the institution’s generation of revenue, with research going a long way to help earn the university accolades. It gives the university a chance to gain more traction for international students looking for opportunities.  

Sheichuk mentioned it is especially challenging for international students who come with different cultural expectations of relationship building and communication with their supervisor. If an international student and a supervisor do not dedicate time to establishing clear communication and expectations, it can negatively affect their research. Navigating life in a new country and dealing with the nitty-gritty of settling in, international students are prone to feeling overwhelmed due to lack of clear communication with their supervisor.  

Maria Velez Caicedo, associate dean of engagement and partnerships in the faculty of graduate studies and research, moved to Canada as a professor and supervisor. Having worked in various countries in the field of research, Caicedo has gathered the box of tools to handle and navigate students in research. Caicedo mentioned the introduction of ‘Letter of Understanding’ which is a list of expectations or guidelines that gives clarity for students and supervisors on how to move ahead. This is a reference guide and a starting point for both the supervisor and researcher to facilitate their communication and set expectations.  

Learning to overcome the challenge of communication and becoming a better researcher, students face a lot of hurdles. Panel discussions like these can be very helpful, and having regular conversations with people can help bridge the gap and obtain results as expected.  

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