A two-day Thesis Capacity Building Workshop aimed at developing the expertise of thesis supervisors at the University of Liberia Graduate Schools has ended with 23 faculty across various academic programs receiving certificates.
The workshop was held under the supervision of the Liberia Institute of Policy Studies and Research (LIPSR) at the University of Liberia beginning Monday, October 10, 2022, on the Capitol Hill and Fendall campuses, respectively.
At least one hundred participants from Graduate, Professional, and undergraduate colleges were targeted. Administrators at the Graduate School recognized the need for additional skills and training in thesis supervision at the school, noting that the supervision process has experienced challenges ranging from finding and maintaining supervisors to poor performance and quality of students’ thesis. “While there are many factors responsible for this, there appears to be inconsistency in the basic processes used across the University of Liberia. One of the most important factors contributing to the thesis and research quality is the process of developing expertise in supervisors’ research supervision,” the authorities said.
The workshop focused on orientating and enriching faculty members’ supervision skills in their identified areas of expertise and further strengthening their intellectual and academic proficiency for effective supervision in their subject areas.
“It also fostered greater understanding of the process of research supervision capability, sustainability, collaboration and [coordination] among faculty, thereby contributing immensely to the developmental needs of the university.” the facilitators said.
Additionally, the workshop provided the thesis supervisors the clarity on their roles and responsibilities, principles, and procedures for supervising students’ thesis.
It also provided clarity on additional skills that enhance the interpersonal relationship between the thesis supervisors and their students, as well as regular guidance, and support.
There were presentations on different research topics, including an Overview of the Supervision Process, Research Models, Types of Research, Overview of the Research Process, Identifying Good Research Topics, Ethics in Research, and Literature Review in Thesis Writing, Methodology, and Data (Qualitative, Quantitative, Mixed Method Research), report writing, and supervisors tips.
The initiative is an ongoing effort by the UL Graduate Schools to ensure effectiveness and efficiency in conducting quality research and writing a good thesis.
Facilitators and participants alike underscored the importance of students to be given adequate support to plan their research effectively.
They said this could include providing guidance on rules surrounding academic work and how their knowledge could be integrated into various research and thesis writing processes.
At the close of the workshop on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, for Supervisors of Graduate and Professional programs, UL Vice President for Graduate Studies, Prof. Dr. Jonathan C. Taylor, lauded the effort of the lead facilitator, Dr. Agnes Reeves-Taylor.
He also lauded the co-facilitators, and the participants for organising the workshop which he described as an important intervention in the ongoing reform process at the Graduate Schools.
“This workshop provided the opportunity for all of us to review the current thesis course manual and make additional comments and interventions,” Dr. Taylor stated.
He assured the participants, many of whom are heads of academic programs, faculty, and staff that most of the comments, suggestions, and recommendations will be incorporated to produce a draft Thesis writing Guideline.
Thereafter, according to Dr. Taylor, the draft thesis guideline will be forwarded to all those concerned for their final review and subsequent validation and approval as the official thesis writing guideline.
He appointed a technical working committee headed by Dr. Agnes Reeves-Taylor to ensure that objective was achieved.
He expressed optimism that the Graduate Schools will have a new course guide on thesis writing in March 2022, considering some of the reforms being undertaken by the schools. He named the Policy Governance of the Graduate School and the Research Method Syllables as the two main areas the reform process will target.
Dr. Taylor meanwhile proposed that capacity-building workshops like the Thesis Supervision workshop be held once every academic year, adding, “We learn and share knowledge anytime we meet like this, I am very pleased.”
For her part, the lead facilitator of the workshop, Dr. Agnes Reeves-Taylor, thanked the UL Administration, and the participants for the knowledge shared and urged them to encourage more of such endeavors.
Dr. Reeves-Taylor wants emphasis placed on setting up a support group of supervisors that will consist of faculty and researchers with expertise from different academic programs. According to her, the goal of the specialised group will be to provide support to students who are undertaking qualitative and quantitative research.
Meanwhile, the workshop continued in Fendall for Undergraduate Colleges and certification of participants was done on October 13, 2022, at the same venue.