The Importance of Metacommunication in Supervision Processes in Higher Education

Rolf K. Baltzersen


In daily language use, we sometimes comment on the conversation with phrases such as “What do you mean by saying that?” or “That was nice of you to say.” This communication about the communication is sometimes labeled as metacommunication. It can be used for many different purposes; for instance, to try and clarify or appraise something that has been said in a conversation. In higher education, a recent empirical study finds that discussions between the student and supervisor about the supervision process have a positive impact on the quality of the communication. Despite this, we know little about the specific metacommunicative mechanisms that may be of importance in supervision. One reason is that most definitions of the metacommunication concept are vague and inconsistent. The goal of this paper is therefore to review a broad range of research literature about metacommunication in an attempt to develop a more comprehensive and complex definition. These perspectives are then used to discuss what specific types of metacommunication might facilitate good supervision in higher education. It is suggested that one should distinguish between metacommunication as part of a transparent communication style and metacommunication about the collaboration period in supervision.

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c)

International Journal of Higher Education
ISSN 1927-6044 (Print) ISSN 1927-6052 (Online) Email:

Copyright © Sciedu Press

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.