Qualitative undergraduate project supervision in psychology: current practices and support needs of supervisors across North East England and Scotland

Sally Wiggins, Alasdair Gordon-Finlayson, Sue Becker, Cath Sullivan

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Abstract

The dissertation is a core component of a psychology undergraduate degree, though very little research has been conducted into supervision processes at undergraduate level. This study examined the accounts of supervisors of qualitative dissertations, in order to identify current practices of supervision and possible resources that might support supervision. Seventeen supervisors from psychology departments in North East England and Scotland were interviewed and three main themes were identified using thematic analysis: the quantitative culture in psychology teaching, supervisors’ expertise, and the supervision process. Supervisors noted that students were typically constrained in their choice of methodology due to limited qualitative methods teaching, lack of training and guidance for supervisors, and concerns about the risks of demanding qualitative projects. Supervisors therefore often reported staying within their comfort zone, electing where possible to supervise only the methods that they themselves use. Recommendations for practical resources are provided to help support students and supervisors in the process of undertaking qualitative psychology dissertations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalQualitative Research in Psychology
Early online date25 Jul 2015
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jul 2015

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Keywords

  • qualitative research
  • undergraduate dissertation
  • research methods teaching
  • empirical project
  • supervision

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