Covenant News

Dons Call for Repositioning of Postgraduate Training Scheme for Development Impact

The Dean, Covenant University School of Postgraduate Studies, Professor Akan Williams, has described the conditions in which most students in Nigerian institutions undertake their graduate work as less than congenial. He advised that there must be a departure from this trend if postgraduate research will align with the quest for national development and global relevance.

Professor Williams made the plea during a One-day Scale-Up Training by the Doctoral Academy of Nigeria for Doctoral Supervisors, held on Thursday, January 13, 2022, at the Covenant University Centre for Research, Innovation and Discovery (CUCRID) Auditorium.

While presenting a paper titled ‘Essentials of Doctoral Philosophy and Ph.D. Education: The Role of Supervisors’, Professor Williams said there was the need for empathy, understanding and encouragement on the part of supervisors, as mentoring was a more excellent way to influence the career of the doctoral student positively.

Professor Williams said the benefits of mentoring included role modelling, giving guidance and support, listening ears, enhanced self-confidence and career guidance to the supervisee. He said mentoring entailed motivation, training, support, advice, giving direction, coaching, being goal-driven and aiming for success.

Professor Williams said the supervisor’s role was for a short-term, with the end product being the graduate student getting a degree. He explained that a mentor’s role was for a long term as the mentor anticipates the changes that would occur in the career of the mentee and tailors the attention, help, guidance, information and encouragement to be provided.

He believed that mentoring was an active, expensive and satisfying endeavour, as it entailed investment in time, effort, emotions towards helping a graduate student emerge a professional, with inherent competencies in a chosen field of human endeavour.  “As a mentor, you tend to multiply yourself in the system because each mentee of yours takes a part of you away. As you observe and admire your mentees, you should be able to recognise in them something they took away from you which they are propagating across time and space,” he posited.

The Dean of the Graduate School said effective mentoring was characterised by mutual respect, trust, understanding, and empathy because good mentors shared their life’s experiences and wisdom, as well as technical expertise. “They are good listeners, good observers, and good problem-solvers,” he added.

In his remarks, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Abiodun H. Adebayo, said the major purpose of academic research was to prove a theory and develop knowledge in any area of interest, to improve human existence. He said while research was essential to our globalized society's economic and social development, forming the foundations for governmental policies worldwide, there was a growing concern that the quality of Ph.D. thesis emanating from Nigerian Universities falls short of the desired quality to generate sustainable development applications.

Professor Adebayo said there were also cases where the supervisor did not have sufficient knowledge of the students’ research topic and, therefore, could not provide constructive guidance to the student. According to him, because of the critical role of doctoral supervisors in the quest to make a meaningful contribution to the global knowledge economy, there was a need for doctoral supervisors to possess relevant research supervision skills to generate relevant developmental knowledge. “Our world is confronted with multifaceted challenges for which ivory towers are expected to offer solutions,” he added.

Professor Adebayo noted that as a vision-driven institution, Covenant would continue to encourage full and unwavering support of efforts to enhance competencies in inclusive development, qualitative research output, collaborative research, and human resources training in every field of human endeavour towards a productively sustainable Nigeria and Africa.

While appreciating the leadership of the Doctoral Academy of Nigeria for PhD Supervisors for facilitating the training, he congratulated the participants for the unique opportunity of being exposed to the workshop and urged them to maximise the inherent benefits.

Similarly, Professor Adedapo Oluwatayo, in a presentation titled ‘Managing Students’ Expectation,’ said there was the need to educate the student on the process as this would help them know what was involved without discouraging them. She said there was a need to schedule regular meetings with the goal of reviews done and new targets set, make a list of expectations, and probe such expectations.

Furthermore, she noted that regular meetings would allow the supervisor and supervisee to reconcile conflicting expectations and lay down the ground rules. Professor Oluwatayo said it was important that the supervisor be diligent by demonstrating sufficient knowledge and direct the student on relevant sources of information, read and comment on written work within an acceptable period, give suggestions and advice, be enthusiastic, committed and approachable.

She concluded by calling on every graduate student supervisor to give the student support without imposing ideas, ensure that students receive appropriate facilities and resources for their works where applicable, possible and appropriate, and at the same time assist them with problems that may interfere with the smooth running of the programme.

The one-day workshop was targeted at prospective postgraduate programme supervisors from senior lecturers to the professorial cadre.

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