Going Deeper: Models of Supervision

Student Learning Styles and Supervisory Models

It is important to note that models of supervision relate dynamically with a student’s learning style. While you will naturally lead from your own strengths, we encourage you to learn additional ways to relate as a supervisor to seminarians who bring various learning styles in different situations. As you develop greater awareness of your own supervisory comfort zone and the student’s preferences for learning under supervision, you will discover what models or perspectives are more effective in reaching particular learning goals. You can explore additional supervisory models.

Beisswenger’s Supervisory Styles Table

While a field education director at Vanderbilt University, Dr. Don Beisswenger created a helpful table that illustrates a variety of supervisory styles.

Beisswinger’s Supervisory Styles in Table Format

Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory

David Kolb developed an easy to use Learning Style Inventory that provides a simple way to identify an individual’s preferred way of learning. Kolb’s inventory looks at how adults perceive and process information. Kolb identifies two ways in which learners take in new information. Some individuals prefer real life experiences and examples – concrete experiences. (See diagram below.) Others like new information to be given in the form of models or ideas – abstract conceptualization. Once the information is taken in some individuals will prefer to process that information by doing something with it – active experimentation. Others will prefer to observe what is going on and reflect on information – reflective observation. In the Learning Style Inventory, Kolb combined these different ways of perceiving and processing information to help individuals understand the relative importance they place on the stages of the learning process. By becoming aware of individual preferences in learning, employee training and development programs can be designed to capitalize on these preferences and help the learner to become competent in all stages of the learning process.

Kolb’s Learning Style Inventory

Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic Learner?

Another simple and often used way of looking at learning style is based on the learner’s preference for visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learning. The visual learner prefers colorful material filled with charts, diagrams, and pictures to support the rest of the presentation. Auditory learners prefer to listen to presentations and explanations, and then talk through the concepts with others. A kinesthetic learner (sometimes referred to as tactile learner) prefers to learn new material by hands-on activity. They will learn best when in motion – doing, writing, drawing, and walking around.



  • Beisswenger, Donald F. “Differentiating Modes of Supervision in Theological Field Education,” Theological Field Education: A Collection of Key Resources Vol 1, ed Donald F Beisswenger, et al (Association for Theological Field Education, 1977) 29-37.
  • Fox, Susan E., Reflective Practice: Supervision and Formation in Ministry, Article 6, vol. 27 (Spring 2007).
  • Pohly, Kenneth, “A Cry from the Wilderness,”Transforming the Rough Places, Providence House Publishers; 2 edition, 2001) 9-22.
  • Pohly, Kenneth H. “The Distinctiveness of Ministry Supervision,” The Journal of  Supervision and Training in Ministry, Vol. 10, 1988.)


  • Pohly, Kenneth H. “The Distinctiveness of Ministry Supervision,” The Journal ofSupervision and Training in Ministry, Vol. 10, 1988.)


Invictus is a 2009 biographical drama film based on events in South Africa before and during the 1995 Rugby World Cup, hosted in that country following the dismantling of apartheid. Directed by Clint Eastwood, the film stars Morgan Freeman as South African President Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as François Pienaar, the captain of the Springboks, the South African rugby union team. The story is based on the John Carlin book Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Changed a Nation. Invictus was released in the United States on December 11, 2009. The title Invictus may be translated from the Latin as undefeated or unconquered.[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invictus_28film]. Several models of supervision are illustrated throughout the movie.

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