A collaboration between MDXworks and the Research Programmes team.
What is academic shadowing?
Academic shadowing entails a Middlesex student spending time with and observing the work of an academic staff member in a department or role of interest in order to gain a valuable insight into the work and that field. There are no fixed rules for the time period, although it normally ranges between 1 and 3 days, and this should be agreed in advance between both parties.
Benefits of shadowing
There are a number of benefits of shadowing for both the shadow and the host
Types of shadowing:
There are different ways of arranging shadowing dependent on the needs of both host and shadow. The details of the shadowing arrangement should be agreed beforehand. Each of the differing options has advantages and disadvantages:
The shadow spends the time observing the day-to-day work of the host and attending relevant meetings where appropriate. This is suitable where an understanding of the role of the host is required. The host should provide opportunities for debriefing to ensure both parties benefit.
Advantages: the shadow’s role is clear; minimal interruption to the host’s work during the shadowing period.
Disadvantages: Little interaction; limited chance to learn during the shadowing experience.
The partners discuss what is coming up e.g. briefing before a section of the day’s work. At the end of the day a more thorough debriefing covering the wider view of working practice, and a reflection on what both have learned.
Advantages: an excellent learning strategy; items are discussed in a timely manner; a reasonable interaction
Disadvantages: some interruption to the host’s work; some need to adjust the roles according to the tasks; may take longer than ‘observation’ and have less opportunity for interaction than ‘hands-on’ (details below)
Shadowing occurs for specific activities which are preceded by a mini-briefing and followed by a debrief. This is most effective if proximity to one another allows for shadowing to take place on several occasions in short blocks of an hour or so. This type of shadowing allows for focused activity in specific areas instead of passive ongoing observation. It needs to be carefully scheduled so as not to be too disruptive.
Advantages: Focuses on the shadow’s learning objectives due to its targeted nature.
Disadvantages: Fairly time intensive for the host; relies on realistic learning objectives; may be unintentionally too narrow in focus.
This is an extension of the observation model, where the shadower undertakes a task for the host during the period. This provides hands on experience whilst under close supervision.
Advantages: minute-by-minute explanation, discussion and interaction.
Disadvantages: slows down and impacts the host’s work.
EVALUATION (this and the confidentiality section should go after the individual host or shadow sections)
At the end of the shadowing experience it is important that the experience is reviewed and reflected upon:
For the shadow and the host to consider and record:
Some information learned during the job shadowing may be confidential and must not be divulged to any other parties, particularly in relation to students and individual programme or module developments. Both shadow and host should act within university Data Protection Policy at all times and respect the confidentiality of students and research work. Additionally, shadowing reports should concentrate on how far the objectives were achieved and should not negatively report on anything that is detrimental to the person being shadowed or their colleagues
THE SHADOWING SCHEME
There are a number of benefits of shadowing for a research student:
In order for the experience to be beneficial, preparation is essential. Preparation activities could include:
At the end of the shadowing experience it is important that a process of reflection is undertaken:
USEFUL QUESTIONS TO ASK
Job Pros and Cons
The Job Itself