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Title: Investigating the effects of the supervisor's feedback on international Masters students' dissertation writing outcomes in the UK
Author: Idris, Ahmad Yusuf
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 2122
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2011
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In the UK, international Masters students whose first language is not English may find the Masters dissertation challenging perhaps because they cannot utilize the full potential of the supervisor’s feedback throughout the dissertation writing process. This process is critiqued as complex and messy, for it involves a clash of expectations, miscommunication, uncertainties and confusions. Yet although the number of international students has increased rapidly in most UK universities, the effects of the supervisor’s feedback on their Masters dissertation writing are poorly investigated. To address these issues, this thesis reports on a small-scale study conducted among international students at Masters level at the University of Warwick. Three departments are included: Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), Law School (LS), and Centre for Translation and Comparative Cultural Studies (CTCCS). Using semi-structured interviews (12 preliminary interviews and 3 longitudinal interviews), semi-structured questionnaires (26 completed questionnaires) and documents (supervisors’ annotations and written comments on the students’ submissions), the current study aims to investigate what influences the supervisor’s feedback may have on international students’ Masters Dissertation Writing (MDW). Analysis of the data obtained by means of qualitative content analysis, it has been discovered that the supervisor’s feedback can have a variety of effects on the quality of international students’ writing. These can be classified into psycho-affective, interpersonal, developmental, linguistic, behavioral and practical influences. In order to obtain a fine-grained picture of such effects, it is important to consider them not only in the light of such feedback issues as feedback delivery methods, feedback focus, and feedback processing, but also in relation to such concepts as motivation, independence, and the responsibilities of both students and supervisors. The key findings of this study are largely consistent with the feedback effects reported in previous research on this topic, indicating that the effects identified may be applicable to MDW in general. The current study suggests that both supervisors and students should negotiate those conflicting feedback expectations that emerge throughout the dissertation process on a frequent basis in order to help students gain more constructive support. To facilitate the process of negotiation, it is recommended that face to face tutorials should be seen as a key feedback delivery method in the Masters dissertation process. Another practical recommendation made in this study is that Sinclair’s (2005) hands-on approaches to PhD supervision should be used at Masters level as a means of reducing the negative impact of the power hierarchy inherent in the supervisor-supervisee relationship, thus helping international students in the process of developing into more independent learners. The study concludes that Masters supervisors should weigh their feedback choices carefully because their feedback may help students not only make more successful revisions but also change negative attitudes towards MDW. Supervisors should also consider such important variables as the student’s personal needs and lacks, the developmental phase of doing the dissertation and departmental expectations, with a view to promoting their motivation and encouraging them to develop strategies contributing to significant improvement in their writing.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Jāmiʻat Dimashq [University of Damascus]
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: LB2300 Higher Education