Power and resistance in feedback during work-integrated learning: contesting traditional student-supervisor asymmetries

Charlotte E Rees, Corinne Davis, Olivia A King, Allie Clemans, Paul Crampton, Nicky Jacobs, Tui McKeown, Julia Morphet, Kate Seear

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While research has started to contest traditional student-supervisor power asymmetries within work-integrated learning, substantial gaps remain about work-integrated learning feedback, power and resistance. This study explores how students and supervisors narrate student power and resistance within work-integrated learning feedback narratives. Ninety-four feedback narratives were collected from 26 higher education students and 25 supervisors from six disciplines participating in 45 interviews. Data were analysed using thematic and narrative analysis. Although the narratives often reproduced traditional power asymmetries, they also contested espoused power asymmetries. Participants reported students exercising power in feedback relationships, either of their own accord or through supervisor power-sharing. Students were also reported to enact resistance to supervisor power, sometimes resulting in supervisor undermining. Student enactment of power and resistance was also illustrated through participants’ pronominal, metaphoric and identity talk. We encourage work-integrated learning students and supervisors to enhance their feedback literacy paying close attention to issues of power and resistance. Students should exercise power and resistance in productive rather than repressive ways during work-integrated learning feedback in order to avoid negative impacts for supervisor well-being and student learning. Further research is needed to explore researcher and participant identification of power and resistance across more diverse participants.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages19
JournalAssessment and Evaluation in Higher Education
Early online date27 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Dec 2019

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