Part 1: Student-Supervisor Relationship Building

Activity 1.3: Planning – Where the relationship building starts


In this activity there are readings on welcoming the student. There is also a short clip and a discussion activity focused on what you do on Day 1.

Reading for Reflection: Student Welcome and Placement Planning

Student Welcome and Placement Planning


Most of us have first-hand experience with supervision-as supervisor and/or student-and thus have our own idea about the process. Let us briefly review this process to make certain we are all on the same wavelength.

This activity presents two constructs, one proposed by Anthony and Gaiptman (1993) and the other by Villeneuve (1994). The latter author divides the supervisory process into five separate stages reflecting the learning process.

The table below matches up the stages of the supervisory process as described by these authors.

Anthony & Gaiptman (1993)

Villeneuve (1994)1


Beginning of placement

On-the-job training

Middle of placement

Commitment and development


Meaning and achievement

End of placement

Expressive action and completion


Anthony and Gaiptman (1933) describe a four-stage supervisory process in their Fundamentals of Supervision workshop. Those stages are: planning, beginning, middle and end. We focus here on the first two stages, placement planning and beginning, which are important for building rapport and trust.


Once the field/clinical site has been confirmed, preparations for the student’s arrival get under way. These include administrative tasks such as informing the staff, planning student orientation and arranging office space. This stage is important for making students feel welcome at the field or clinical site, as the case may be.

1. Participants interested in knowing more about these stages are referred to Villeneuve (1994), Chapter 3, p. 4578.


It’s always good to begin on the right foot. This is what makes the first day of placement so important for students. Taking time to get acquainted with them that first day makes them feel welcome. This bolsters their self-assurance and encourages them to take up new challenges.

Most students feel somewhat vulnerable at first, being unsure of their roles and duties. Their feelings must be considered in discussing the beginning of placement.

We recommend early student orientation to go over administrative procedures, client profiles, instructional resources, coworkers and the workplace. Make sure expectations are clear so that students can settle in comfortably from the start.

Once students know what is expected of them and are familiar with the resources and the workplace, the supervisor can work with them on setting goals and objectives. The supervisor can also explain the procedures for feedback and performance evaluation.

(c) 2004-2005 Consortium national de formation en sant̩ (CNFS) РUniversity of Ottawa component

Video Clip: Be Prepared

Reading for Reflection: Welcoming the Student

Welcoming the Student

The first day of a placement sets the stage for all experiences to come. Students do not know exactly what to expect and may therefore be anxious and worried. Put them at ease by spending time with them. Discuss their previous placements and experiences. Offer them choices, e.g. “Where would you like to begin this morning?” As our previous examples make clear, you would do well to set aside as much of your regular work as possible during the first week of placement. Otherwise, supervising becomes a burden, and students may easily get the impression they are a millstone around your neck.

It is also helpful to provide incoming students with tips and techniques for getting settled. Be practical and down to earth. Give them detailed information about the department’s schedule, and explain how the workload is divided up. The more students know what to expect, the more they can relax.

One way to make students feel included and emphasize their group affiliation is to say things such as “we in our profession” or “as an occupational therapist/nurse (insert the appropriate profession), you will be required to . . . .”

Anthony and Gaiptman (1993) state that planning is one key to ensuring that the supervisor is properly organized and relaxed when first meeting a student. Preplanning the field placement or clinical experience makes students feel expected and welcomed by staff. The authors give this real-life example of shoddy preparation: when a student first arrived at the placement site, both the employer and the supervisor had forgotten the student was starting that day. Who should we feel sorrier for – the student or the supervisor?

(c) 2005 Consortium national de formation en sant̩ (CNFS) РUniversity of Ottawa component

Let’s discuss: What do you do?

The development of trust starts with your first contact with your student. How might the scenario in the video impact on developing trust between the supervisor and the student? How do you start building trust with your students? Share your ideas.

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