Promoting creativity in PhD supervision: Tensions and dilemmas

Whitelock, Denise M.; Faulkner, Dorothy and Miell, Dorothy E. (2008). Promoting creativity in PhD supervision: Tensions and dilemmas. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 3(2) pp. 143–153.



In this paper we argue that the processes of collaborative creativity are just as important within the sociocultural context of PhD supervisory practice, as they are in other organizational and educational settings. In order to test this claim a series of interviews with supervisors and students were undertaken to uncover the pedagogic processes used to encourage and support creativity within supervision sessions. The findings from this small-scale study suggest that whilst the more formal instruction and monitoring processes that lead to the acquisition of transferrable research skills are both usefully and necessary aspects of doctoral training, the more open-ended and creative developments required at this level of study should be given equal weight. There needs to be space, time and encouragement for the types of interactions identified here (e.g. informal reflection, relationship building with peers and supervisor, playful exploration and risk taking) as well as mandatory skills development.

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