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

Wiggins, Sally and Gordon-Finlayson, Alasdair and Becker, Sue and Sullivan, Cath (2015) Qualitative undergraduate project supervision in psychology : current practices and support needs of supervisors across North East England and Scotland. Qualitative Research in Psychology. ISSN 1478-0887

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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.