AAA2020 Virtual Conference Banner 7 - 10 Dec

Honours Student and Supervision Challenges during the 2020 Covid Pandemic

Jacqueline Turner 
University of New England

Adjunct Associate Professor Wendy Beck, Archaeology, University of New England

In this paper Jackey (student) and Wendy (supervisor) reflect on our experiences during 2020.

Jackey: I would say to students contemplating Honours during these uncertain times that it has been challenging but it is still achievable. I am a mature-aged single mother and I am doing a BA(Honours) because I would like to be a Consulting Archaeologist in Australia. The Gostwyck Grinding Grooves research excavation provides the data for my thesis. Fortunately, my fieldwork was not affected, but home-schooling my son, was challenging and I moved to part-time study.

Wendy: Research shows that many students in research degrees do not complete. The major reasons are changes of career goals, work-family conflicts, poor health or financial strain. There are several factors for successful completion: motivation, working in teams rather than solo, connections with peers and professional activities, and good supervision.

Jackey: During the Covid pandemic a major challenge was to home-school my Kindergarten-aged son. Like all mothers who study, I felt guilty when I had assignments due. I was not confident initially about Zoom, but am now able to meet ‘in person’ or Zoom, and I access email and regular telephone meetings. I lacked access to up-to-date computers, due to University structural issues. If I were a higher degree research student I would be able to borrow a laptop, but Honours is regarded as undergraduate. There is also much uncertainty about the impact of Covid on Archaeological Consulting. If I had to home-school again, it would be very challenging to complete Honours. I am uncertain about how this pandemic could affect my job prospects, and I worry that my employment prospects are already hindered by my circumstances.

Wendy: I recommend focusing attention on your transferable skills: GIS, cultural awareness, project management, report writing, which can be used in multiple job contexts.


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