Examining the perceptions of the supervisory relationship between Chinese-speaking postgraduate students and English-speaking supervisors at New Zealand universities

Edmonds, Anna
Strauss, Pat
Grant, Lynn
Item type
Degree name
Master of Arts in Applied Language Studies
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Auckland University of Technology

This study explores the perceptions of Chinese-speaking postgraduate students and English-speaking supervisors involved in the supervisory relationship in New Zealand universities. As Chinese students form a significant part of the postgraduate cohort in New Zealand, their level of satisfaction with the supervisory process has become a concern for the New Zealand export education industry. On the other hand, the challenges supervisors face during intercultural supervision have not been well explored in New Zealand context. The aim of this study was to bridge the gap and provide an opportunity for both Chinese-speaking students and English-speaking supervisors to express issues that are pertinent to them in the supervisory process.

The results were based on a qualitative research study conducted at five New Zealand universities, 28 Chinese students and 23 supervisors participated in the survey, and 10 Chinese students and 10 supervisors volunteered to be interviewed. This study found that overall Chinese students and supervisors were satisfied with their supervisory relationships. However, findings indicated that both Chinese students and supervisors were often unaware of each other’s expectations or assumptions during the supervisory process, and they found it difficult to communicate effectively when issues were raised. Both the students and supervisors acknowledged that there were linguistic and cultural difficulties which resulted in barriers to effective communication.

The study suggests that it is important for both Chinese students and supervisors to be aware of cultural differences and the importance of adequate knowledge of intercultural communication strategies, so both parties are able to meet each other’s expectations and needs.

Intercultural communication , Postgraduate Supervision
Publisher's version
Rights statement