Sensemaking in supervisor-doctoral student relationships: revealing schemas on the fulfillment of basic psychological needs

Suzanne Janssen*, Mark van Vuuren, Menno D.T. de Jong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Mentoring relationships between research supervisors and doctoral students play a key role in doctoral students’ success. Self-determination theory assumes that the quality of these relationships can be defined in terms of fulfillment of students’ basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Studies on how supervisors and students build need-supportive relationships are, however, lacking. Taking a schema-based perspective, this article investigates supervisors’ and doctoral students’ (mis)alignments in schemas on how to fulfill students’ basic needs in their relationship. Qualitative data were obtained from a sample of 18 interviews (nine dyads) to reveal the schema-driven sensemaking of students and their supervisors. Findings show that the idea of schema similarity might be too simple: For each of the three basic needs, tensions arise between students’ and supervisors’ schemas. These need-based schemas in action offer a fresh perspective for understanding why some supervisor-doctoral student relationships are experienced as successful while others are not.

Original languageEnglish
JournalStudies in higher education
Early online date20 Aug 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print/First online - 20 Aug 2020

Keywords

  • UT-Hybrid-D
  • Doctoral education
  • mentoring schema theory
  • self-determination theory
  • sensemaking
  • basic needs

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