The Supervisor of Undergraduate Dissertations in a Web-Based Context: How Much Support and How to Give it?
Keywords:Higher education, undergraduate dissertation, supervisor’s support, technological knowledge, technological tools
The provision of support has always been central to the role of the undergraduate dissertation (UD) supervisor, but little research has been done on its contextual determinants in web-facilitated contexts. Beyond the general recognition of the importance of institutional support for the development of supervisors’ technological and pedagogical knowledge and the importance of technology and pedagogy in maximizing the impact of supervisors’ support for students, the effect of technology tools and students’ prior skills on the type and level of supervisors’ support is not well understood. Drawing partially on the Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework, the present work uses Partial-Least Square Structural Equation Modelling to examine the effect of supervisors’ Technological Pedagogical Knowledge (TPK), their perception of students’ soft skills, and the technology tools they use (face-to-face, social media or a learning management system) on the level of educational and motivational support they provide. The results indicate that institutional support to UD supervisors positively affects their TPK, which in turn positively affects their educational and motivational support to students. However, supervisors’ educational and motivational support is inversely related to their perception of students’ soft skills and is also affected by the technological tools used. In short, supervision styles are not static since different contextual factors affect the management of the process of supervision. The implications for UD supervision are discussed, and some recommendations are proposed in the article.
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