Publication Details

Willemyns, M., Gallois, C. & Callan, V. J. 2006, 'Conversations between postgraduate students and their supervisors: intergroup communication and accommodation', The First World Congress on the Power of Language: Theory, Practice and Development,


The main aim of this study was to analyze intergroup communication and language processes in conversations between postgraduate students and their academic supervisors. Communication accommodation theory and Social Identity Theory were used as the main theoretical frameworks. A secondary aim was to contribute to the CAT literature by further operationalizing communication accommodation strategies. Transcripts of conversations between 31 postgraduate students and their supervisors were examined using thematic content analysis, and the findings produced a number of predicted and emergent themes. The themes included dominance, status, mentoring, academic and professional identity, and postgraduate students’ independence. Face issues also emerged as a central theme. At a theoretical level, the findings supported and extended CAT as a robust theory for examining ingroup and intergroup processes in supervisor-postgraduate student communication. At an applied level, the findings contribute to the literature on maintaining and improving supervisor-supervisee communication in general, and more specifically in an academic context.