The Relationship Between Interpersonal Approaches of Thesis Supervisors and Graduate Student Satisfaction

  •  Dalal M. Aldosari    
  •  Ali S. Ibrahim    


The purpose of this explanatory mixed method study is to describe students’ perceptions of the thesis supervision approaches used, their satisfaction with these approaches, and whether their satisfaction differed based on students’ gender, degree sought, and concentration. The study comprised two parts. First, a questionnaire was distributed to all graduate students who had written a thesis/dissertation during 2015-2017 (N=213) at one of the universities in the United Arab Emirates. Second, a group of students from among those mentioned above (N=16) were interviewed. The study revealed that the most commonly used approach by the supervisors was the collaborative interpersonal approach and the least used one was the directive informational approach. There was no significant difference according to the degree sought and concentration. However, when it came to gender, female students believed that the supervisors had used the collaborative approach more than the male students. Overall, graduate students were satisfied with their supervisors’ approaches, while some were highly satisfied. The findings indicated a pattern where the more collaborative the supervisor was, the more satisfied the student became and the more the supervisor used the non-directive interpersonal approach, the less satisfied the students became. The study recommends that faculty supervisors attend to the various needs and preferences of their students and be ready to shift away from their preferred approach to suit the diverse needs and abilities of their students.

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