University of Tasmania
A small scale investigation.pdf (59.85 kB)

A small-scale investigation into Engineering PhD student satisfaction with supervision in an Australian university campus

Download (59.85 kB)
conference contribution
posted on 2023-05-23, 11:28 authored by Helfer, F, Steve DrewSteve Drew
BACKGROUND Doctoral supervision is doubtless one of the most complex forms of teaching in higher education. Poor quality supervision may affect the student’s candidature by, for instance, increasing the time for candidature completion, decreasing the quality of the research outcomes, and reducing the number and quality of publications. Further, poor quality supervision may also lead to early termination of doctoral candidatures. A quality doctoral supervision process, including a successful supervisor/student relationship, can provide high levels of student fulfilment and satisfaction and consequently, a successful doctoral candidature. PURPOSE This study investigated the level of satisfaction of engineering doctoral students with supervisors and supervision process at a large Australian university campus. Further goals of this investigation were: a) to determine the overall level of satisfaction of engineering doctoral students with different aspects of their supervision process; b) to identify positive and negative aspects of the doctoral supervision; and c) to identify the important qualities for a successful supervision process from the engineering doctoral students’ perspective. METHOD The method employed in this investigation was based on a student quantitative and qualitative survey. A total of 47 full-time doctoral students were invited to participate via an anonymous online submission system. The survey comprised questions about students’ current supervision experiences, and about their views on quality supervision. The questions were taken or adapted from validated methods published in the literature for similar studies. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS This study showed that approximately 50% of the engineering PhD students are satisfied with their supervision process at this university campus. The main reasons for satisfaction with supervision are related to the knowledge demonstrated by the supervisor, as well as to personal qualities such as friendliness, approachability, patience, consideration and understanding. The main reasons for dissatisfaction were related to the apparent lack of involvement of supervisors in the research projects, and the perceived lack of knowledge in the field for some supervisors. These issues suggest that supervisors should perhaps consider increasing the number of participants in the supervision team to provide PhD students with more assistance. Well-aligned with these issues are the students’ remarks on the importance of supervisor interaction and collaboration with other research centres and universities in order to increase the cohort of supervisors potentially available to assist the students.


Publication title

Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education


C Lemckert, G Jenkins, S Lang-Lemckert




DVC - Education


Griffith University

Place of publication


Event title

24th Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education

Event Venue

Gold Coast, Australia

Date of Event (Start Date)


Date of Event (End Date)


Rights statement

Copyright the authors

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the information and computing sciences

Usage metrics

    University Of Tasmania


    Ref. manager