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Superwisor, a Serious Game to enhance doctoral guidance

Superwisor, a Serious Game to enhance doctoral guidance
Published on
31 August 2017

“Hello, Professor, have you taken a look at the proposal draft that I sent you last week?” As a supervisor, what would your answer to that question be? Would you tell the DBA student that you had read it and provided written feedback? Or would you explain how you had a busy schedule and that the last thing on your mind was the student’s proposal?

This is one of the many decisions that the player will have to make in the new serious game called Superwisor that has been created by Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM). The game targets PhD and DBA supervisors and places them in important supervisory scenarios, allowing them to practice, improve, and enhance their doctoral guidance skills.

3 standard critical moments in the interaction between supervisors and supervisees

“Superwisor has three parts, each focusing on a critical moment in the supervisory process. Through discussions with students and faculty of the Doctoral School, we abstracted three critical moments in the interaction between supervisors and supervisees that have determining effects on the entire relationship and the success of the doctorate.

These three moments are the first meeting between the student and their supervisor, the discussion of the extended research proposal, and a dialogue about the publishing process.

Each moment had its own scenario: Part 1: Superwisor Rises, Part 2: The Return of the Research Proposal, and Part 3: The Quest for Publishing,” explained Valerie Sabatier, Director of the Doctoral School at GEM.

The goal is to motivate reflection and to inspire discussion

“Each of the three parts of the game lasts between 30 and 45 minutes. Within this time, players will encounter difficult dilemmas relating to supervision, reflect on how they would handle them, and make decisions on how to direct the discussion.

At the end of the game, they will receive feedback on their choices, as well as a list of six best practices and resources to go further,” detailed Hélène Michel, Professor in Innovation Management and in charge of serious games. “The goal is to motivate reflection on current practices and inspire discussion with other colleagues” she added.

How the game works

At the beginning of each part, the player is presented with a brief biography of the player’s character and the student’s background. The scenario then begins and a conversation opens up between the student and the supervisor. In no time, the student will bring up a point related to a certain supervisory practice.

The player will be presented with three choices and must decide how to respond. Each choice will lead the discussion in a different direction and will represent a certain attitude towards supervision.

After a dozen or so decision points, the player will be presented with a framework consisting of six dimensions that were tested during the gameplay. The player will receive a score on each of the dimensions, feedback on performance, and suggested resources to learn more about or enhance a specific dimension. The frameworks and resources are based on research on supervision conducted by the GEM Doctoral School.

Supervisors are encouraged to play the game in pairs or groups. From our experience in conducting playtests, the discussion generated when pairs of supervisors share one screen while playing the game highlights areas of improvement in ways that are not possible in more traditional supervisory training.

Practical information

  • 1 to 3 players: supervisors of PhD and DBA students
  • 30 to 45 minutes playing per game
  • 3 scenarios, 18 best practices, and 25 resources
  • 150€ per license, available in English
  • Purchasing options for modeling supervisory training around Superwisor with experts from the GEM Doctoral School

The game was developed by Grenoble Ecole de Management with the support of Msc IHRM&OB 2016-2018 and an international team of students from GEM and MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, part of the MIT France Programme), and Pôle Supérieur de Design.

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