Training: ethical pedagogical practices: respectful supervisory relationships

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Training: ethical pedagogical practices: respectful supervisory relationships

  • This is an orientation program for new and current Higher Degree Research supervisors;
  • It aims to shift individual ethical practices specific to the supervisor/supervisee relationship;
  • It aims to contribute to an overall decrease in sexual harassment and sexual assault of HDR students.

Is it okay to supervise a research student in your home?

Is it okay to share conference accommodation?

Is it okay to discuss a student's thesis over dinner?

Higher Degree research supervisors face a multitude of ethical dilemmas in both teaching and academic leadership roles. There is rarely training provided to support them in making these decisions.

While ethical issues in research are accorded significant attention, this has not been extended to the academic teaching role – HDR supervision is part of the academic teaching workload.

"I felt that I had not really reflected on ethical aspects of HDR supervision in a structured way. I wanted to know more about ethical considerations that I should be taking into account, and I hope that by engaging in this program, I will become a better supervisor."
-Pilot program participant.

The program has been developed specifically for supervisors overseeing research/PhD students. The aim of the program is to (i) create a shift in individual ethical practices specific to the supervisor/supervisee relationship, and (ii) contribute to an overall decrease in sexual harassment and sexual assault of HDR students.

Throughout the program, supervisors will:

  • Critically engage with the importance of approaching sexual harassment and sexual assault as an ethical issue;
  • Critically reflect on ethical frameworks that inform their pedagogical practices in the HDR arena;
  • Develop an accurate understanding of the dynamics that underpin, and the behaviours that constitute, sexual harassment and assault;
  • Gain an understanding of the power dynamics within the supervisor/supervisee relationship;
  • Understand the impacts and consequences of sexual harassment and sexual assault in universities and the general community;
  • Develop skills in behaving ethically as a bystander.

It is proposed that this training is incorporated as part of a supervisor's on-boarding/orientation.

This program was developed during 2018 in a partnership between Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia and Dr Suzanne Egan. Dr Egan was contracted by the organisation in a research capacity for the duration of the project.

Modality Appropriate for Maximum participants
Online and face-to-face Current and new supervisors of higher Degree Research students 20

The program incorporates adult learning principles which recognise that participants bring a wealth of experience to both the online and face-to-face environment.

It includes a mixture of formats including mini presentations of key concepts, case studies of real life situations which will explore the complexity of issues, audio–visual clips, and ethical dilemmas.

A key feature of the training is a focus on experiential learning, individual and small group reflection and providing opportunities for participants to practice skills in ethical leadership.

A maximum of twenty participants per face to face workshop is required to foster discussion and encourage group work, and a maximum of ten in the online environment to encourage participation. The program will be facilitated by two trainers from Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia.

Our training approach

At Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia, we recognise that adults bring a wealth of knowledge and individual experiences to the learning environment. Every workshop utilises adult learning principles, as per the Principles for Best Practice for 21st Century Education (Nichols, 2002).

Rape & Domestic Violence Services Australia trainers are social workers, psychologists, and educators. They are experienced trainers in causes, consequences and primary prevention of sexual, domestic and family violence causes.

All facilitators are trained to safely and compassionately respond to disclosures and refer onward to state based services.

All training programs are audited regularly to ensure the information provided is evidence-based and current.

Programs can be tailored based on the needs of each organisation and can be delivered to clinical and non-clinical audiences.