Webinar Explores the Factors that Negatively Affect Student Research Success
Student research success and the long and dusty road travelled by students and their supervisors were the topics of discussion at an interactive webinar hosted by the College of Law and Management Studies’ Research Office. Facilitated by UKZN’s Honorary Professor in the School of Management, Information Technology and Governance Professor Dan Remenyi and the College’s Dean of Research Professor Colette Muller, the webinar was attended by academics and postgraduate students.
‘It is imperative that we discuss the success of our College’s research students so that we can engage with them and enhance their performance,’ said Muller.
Drawing on over 30 years of academic experience, Remenyi posed the following questions:
· What is the objective of a research degree?
· What is the biggest challenge facing research degree students?
· Why do students not complete their research degrees?
· What is the best motivator for student success?
· Where does most attention need to be invested?
‘Not enough attention is given in the first few weeks of someone’s research journey which is to explain the research process and set targets. My experience 30 years ago when I entered the field of social science was being introduced to a supervisor who did not know anything about my topic. I had to discover the field myself and depend on the library. This is a case for not having only one supervisor as a supervisor should be in a good position to help the student with knowledge,’ said Remenyi.
Other issues discussed included managing of expectations between the student and supervisor, student commitment to producing quality work rather than just doing enough to attain the degree, administrative challenges and the examination process.
‘A research degree is a very personal journey and a poor relationship with a supervisor can make it very difficult. Universities are big institutions that are very bureaucratic in nature and, while we cannot do away with bureaucracy, we should do better to streamline it. All supervisors should understand that a student’s work will never be perfect; their role is to take all of the crumbs of quality in the work and build on that,’ Remenyi added.
Words: Thandiwe Jumo