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Lessons Learned: Tips for Effective Graduate Student Supervision. Denise Balfour, M.Ed. Assistant Director, Office of Student Conduct & Academic Integrity Old Dominion University [email protected]/(757) 683-3431 Tourgee D. Simpson, Jr., M.Ed.

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Lessons learned tips for effective graduate student supervision

Lessons Learned: Tips for Effective Graduate Student Supervision

Denise Balfour, M.Ed.

Assistant Director, Office of Student Conduct & Academic Integrity

Old Dominion University

[email protected]/(757) 683-3431

Tourgee D. Simpson, Jr., M.Ed.

Assistant Director, Office of Undergraduate Advising

College of Business and Public Administration, Old Dominion University

[email protected]/(757) 683-5337

Lessons learned tips for effective graduate student supervision1

Lessons Learned: Tips for Effective Graduate Student Supervision

Denise Balfour, M.Ed.

Assistant Director, Office of Student Conduct & Academic Integrity

Old Dominion University

[email protected]/(757) 683-3431

Tourgee D. Simpson, Jr., M.Ed.

Assistant Director, Office of Undergraduate Advising

College of Business and Public Administration, Old Dominion University

[email protected]/(757) 683-5337

Poll the audience
Poll the Audience Supervision

Learning outcomes
Learning Outcomes Supervision

  • To understand key models of graduate preparation programs and how managing graduate students and interns through supervised practice is a complex process

  • To connect student development theory to the supervised practice experience

  • To gain a better understanding of tools to assess graduate student competencies

  • To understand the ethical and legal issues associated with supervising graduate students and interns

  • To provide strategies for helping students apply information learned in the classroom to their practice as graduate students and interns (and eventually as new professionals)

  • To acquire resources on how one can best manage the graduate student supervision process with successful results

Models for graduate preparation programs
Models for SupervisionGraduate Preparation Programs

Integrated student affairs practitioner model creamer winston miller 2001
Integrated Student Affairs Practitioner Model (Creamer, Winston, & Miller, 2001)

Integrated student affairs practitioner model creamer winston miller 20011
Integrated Student Affairs Practitioner Model (Creamer, Winston, & Miller, 2001)

  • Life experience – what you learn from your personal world

  • Attitudes and values – involve human dignity, freedom, equity, and community (Young & Elfrink, 1991) and the way you act and feel

  • Theoretical knowledge – what you acquire from literature and research

  • Applied knowledge – how you connect theory and practice

  • Practical and technical skills – how you complete tasks, projects, and activities

  • Social and interpersonal skills – how you communicate and interact with others

  • Professional ethics – determining what is “right” within legal and institutional policy

Scientist practitioner model schroeder pike 2001
Scientist – Practitioner Model (Schroeder & Pike, 2001)

  • Assert that

    • student affairs practitioners have dual responsibilities – to serve the client (our students) and to serve the field;

    • we should base our work on sound, well-tested theories;

    • we are obligated to advance knowledge in the field, i.e., to be informed of theoretical advancements and to be involved with research that tests, modifies, and creates new theories.

What is supervised practice
What is Supervised Practice?

  • Common definition: “learn by doing”

    • Learning is best when it is self-directed, guided by theory, and is reflective (Dewey, 1916).

    • Learning must be active and engaging, include cognitive, emotional, and volitional processes, provide self-reflection, and connect experience to the curriculum in a systematic way (Hutchings and Wutzdorff, 1988).

  • Supervised practice is

    • different from professional training (McEwen and Talbot, 1998)

    • comes in many forms – assistantships, internships, externships, fieldwork, practica, work-study programs

  • Two common types: counseling-based and administrative

  • Accepted standards for evaluating supervised practice experiences come from the CAS (Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education)

Supervised practice model cooper et al 2002
Supervised Practice Model (Cooper, et. al., 2002)

Supervised practice model cooper et al 20021
Supervised Practice Model (Cooper, et. al., 2002)

  • Direct experience – doing the work, conducting the business

  • Translation – translating knowledge, subject matter (typically from the classroom), and worldviews into practice; skill development that “sticks to the ribs” (pg. 24)

  • Applying Ethics – participating in professional practice carried out according to the ethics of the profession

  • Reflection – reflect on knowledge and use it in practice

Supervised practice model examples
Supervised Practice Model (Examples)

  • Direct experience – serving as a conduct officer, overseeing NASCAP assessment, implementing programs, co-advising honor council, various administrative tasks

  • Translation – setting goals/objectives, weekly readings and discussion topics, connecting coursework to the assistantship, providing both challenging and supportive opportunities and tasks

  • Applying Ethics – reviewing ethics of the profession, ongoing conversations of direct experience and translation

  • Reflection – “points of reflection” questions, weekly one on ones, journal entries, end of year portfolio

Hrd training process model goldstein 1974
HRD Training & Process Model (Goldstein, 1974)

Hrd training process model goldstein 19741
HRD Training & Process Model (Goldstein, 1974)

  • Assessing the graduate student – the learning gap, what the student knows, what you want the student learn

  • Designing the training model – define objectives, develop the lesson plan, select the trainer or leader, select methods of theories/techniques, schedule the program/intervention

  • Implementing – the active participation of the learner and the instructor(s)

  • Evaluating – select the evaluation criteria, design, conduct the instrument, and interpret results

Hrd training process model examples
HRD Training & Process Model (Examples)

  • Assessing the graduate student – conducted a skills-based survey or needs analysis

  • Designing the training model – developed an intern contract

  • Implementing – advising students, assigned readings, research on peer mentoring programs and advising themes, attend committee meetings and webinars, creating a advising syllabus

  • Evaluating – weekly one on ones, portfolio, reflective assignments, completion of the master advisor certification, and faculty evaluations

Developing the supervisor supervisee relationship
Developing the Supervisor/Supervisee Relationship

  • Remember, your graduate assistants/interns are students first!

  • Create a variety of opportunities in each component of the supervised practice/HRD training and process model

  • Set clear expectations early on (from both supervisor and student) and revisit often

  • Assess skills and modify opportunities based on student’s strengths and areas of growth

  • Provide both personal and professional development

  • Don’t forget to challenge AND support

  • Check in regularly. Evaluate, evaluate, EVALUATE!

  • Be prepared to modify the experience as your office workflow changes

  • Make time for closure at the end of the assistant/internship


  • Should be completed prior to or at the beginning of the graduate assistant/internship

    • Gives student the opportunity to clarify skills he/she will bring to the experience as well as identify areas for growth

    • Helps supervisor to identify key experiences and opportunities to incorporate into the graduate assistant/internship

  • Find an assessment that best fits the needs and culture of your office and the position

  • Utilize information gathered in the assessment to create your learning agreement, contract, or syllabus

  • Revisit and evaluate often….use the survey as a ongoing reflection point

Assessment tools examples
Assessment Tools (Examples)

  • Steward’s Skills Analysis Survey (1994)

  • Needs Assessment (2002)

  • StrengthsQuest (2001)

  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (1962)

  • Vocational Preference Inventory (1984)

  • Self-Directed Search (1985)

Theories associated with supervised practice
Theories Associated with Supervised Practice

  • Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning (1984)

  • Astin’s Theory of Student Involvement (1984)

  • Kouzes and Posner’s Model of Exemplary Leadership (2003)

  • Kitchner’s Ethical Principles and Ethical Decision-Making (1985)

  • Schlossberg’s Theory of Marginality and Mattering (1989)

  • Stanford’s Theory of Challenge and Support (1966)

  • Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development (1971)

  • Chickering’s 7 Vectors of Student Development (1969)

  • Gilligan’s Theory of Moral Development (1982)

  • Tinto’s Model of Institutional Departure (1993)

Kolb s model of experiential learning 1984
Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning (1984)

Concrete Experience





Abstract Conceptualization

Astin s theory of student involvement 1984
Astin’s Theory of Student Involvement (1984)

  • Suggests students learn and are developed the most when they are actively involved in the experience

    • Involvement: amount of personal energy and thoughts devoted to the experience

  • Factors that provide high involvement:

    • Setting clear expectations

    • Allowing moments to give and receive feedback

    • Reflecting on one’s experience

    • Creating opportunities to work collaboratively with others

    • Developing a professional development plan

  • These factors solely provide opportunities to foster development; they do not create the development itself. Supervisors must focus on creating opportunities for involvement to occur (Evans, et.al., 1998).

Legal implications
Legal Implications

  • Graduate students effectively supervised will

    • Participate in activities that carry some level of risk (negligence)

    • Explore issues of authority and responsibility

    • Understand due process, confidentiality, and FERPA

    • Knowledge and understanding of university policy and procedures

  • Effective graduate student supervisors will not

    • Discriminate through hiring practices

    • Create hostile work environments

Types of authority
Types of Authority

  • Expressed authority – clearly stated or written

    • direct supervisors, advisors, etc.

  • Implied authority – defined by the need

    • signing off on paperwork, making reservations, chaperones

  • Apparent authority – authority that does not truly exist

    • singing off on contracts with budget authority

  • Authority to act – acting with outside units and vendors

Ethical implications
Ethical Implications

  • Both supervisors and graduate assistants are faced with situations in which they face ethical dilemmas:

    • Adhering (or not adhering to) the ethical standards of your department, your institution, and/or professional standards

    • Developing dual relationships

    • Violations of HR standards

    • Balancing personal versus professional ethics

    • Making decisions among multiple ethical principles

  • Remember… legal issues are taught, ethical behavior is modeled.

Closing out the experience
Closing Out the Experience

  • Provide opportunities for both personal and professional closure

  • Give students the opportunity for a 360-degree performance evaluation

  • Discuss opportunities for recommendation letters, referrals, ongoing mentoring, etc.

  • Assist in planning for the future – is your student job searching? Looking for another assistant/internship? Leaving the field?

  • Don’t forget to end the experience on a positive note!

Final thoughts
Final Thoughts…

  • Supervising graduate assistants can be a rewarding, yet challenging experience.

  • There are several models for graduate preparation programs – tailor your assistant/internship to fit the model of the program your student attends.

  • Supervised practice is just one method of graduate student supervision. Incorporate what works best for you.

  • Establish a job description, set clear expectations early on, provide learning opportunities, and evaluate often.

  • Building connections between the coursework and practice is key.

  • Provide a variety of opportunities for your students to be involved and engaged in their experience.

  • Don’t forget to have fun!

Any questions thank you for your time

Any Questions? Thank you for your time 


Amey, M.J. & Ressor, L.M. (2009). Beginning your journey. Washington, DC: NASPA.

Astin, A.W. (1984). Student Involvement: A developmental theory for higher educational. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25, 297-308.

Cooper, D.L., et.al. (2002). Learning through supervised practice in student affairs. New York: Routledge.

Desimon, R.L., Werner, J.M., Harris, D.M. (2002). Human resource development third edition. Orlando,: Harcourt Inc.

Evans, N.J., et.al. (1998). Student development in college: theory, research, and practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Janosik, S.M., et.al. (2003). Supervising new professionals in student affairs. New York: Brunner-Routledge.

Kolb, D.A. (1981). Learning styles and disciplinary differences. In A.W Chickering, Modern American college: Responding to the new realities of diverse students and a changing society, 232-255. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Ronnestad, M.H., & Skovolt, T.M. (1993). Supervision of beginning and advanced graduate students of counseling and psychotherapy. Journal of Counseling and Development, 71, 396-405.

Sandeen, A. & Barr, M.J. Critical issues for student affairs: challenges and opportunities. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.