My Ph.D. student is stuck on some technicality of their project. It's taken months already, and there is no good progress. The problem lies beyond their project focus and skill set. Thus, even after repeatedly helping the student, the progress remains so slow that we might be unable to finish the remaining project.
I assess that the problem lies in the complexity of the procedure. Lots of small details need to be carefully arranged for it to work. I can do it myself, but it's very hard to explain.
The choice I see is
- Continue with regular meetings, try to explain as much as possible, and accept that we won't finish the project.
- Redefine the problem by, e.g., changing assumptions so it becomes more tractable for the student.
- I solve this part of the problem and then use that knowledge to better nudge the student in the right direction.
- I solve this part of the problem and hand it to the student so that we can go to the next project phase.
My view on those options are
- Risky because in my position, I'm too dependent on a project to have good results
- It Would be the best way in theory, but not feasible in this case.
- It seems pedagogically ok but possibly still time-consuming.
- It seems pedagogically problematic as I overwrite months of work.
When I talk with senior colleagues, the conversation is not helpful because they would never touch any practical work themselves anyway. So, they only consider 1. or 2.
What would be your advice in this situation?