Group supervision in an open distance learning context

Tuesday, 19 November 2013: 9:10 AM

Gisela H. Van Rensburg, DLittetPhil, MACur, BACur (Hons), BACur
Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to understand what constitutes group supervision and the learning opportunities it offers beyond existing open distance learning models.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to understand how reflection enhances the studentsí identity and expectations in group supervision.

Group supervision in an open distance learning context

The purpose of the presentation is to provide supervisors of masters and doctoral students with information that could facilitate reflection in a cohort group in group supervision to enhance wider learning opportunities within a distance learning context. Reflexivity can contribute to an enriching learning environment within which students’ experiences and potential are enriched.     

This presentation forms part of a larger study that focuses on student support strategies in an open distance learning context. A qualitative approach was used to explore the reflective practices of the students within the cohort group. Data were collected through narrative essays that were guided by three open-ended questions. The eight steps suggested by Tesch were used to analyse the data. The data obtained is discussed within the specific context of an open distance learning environment.

The results provided significant insights into the value of being part of a cohort in group supervision and pointed to the mutual support and thus participative learning. The context and processes encouraged critical reflection and assisted in addressing identity issues and hidden assumptions. Students were pushing their own boundaries as they felt save and not alone in the research journey.  

The results revealed that group supervision could be expanded to more and more diverse groups of masters students in an open distance learning context. Group supervision could offer a type of support that is not part of the open distance learning context. It may address some of the issues experienced in such a context by alleviating the feeling of ‘distance’ and ‘aloneness’ in open distance learning.

Key terms: group supervision, open distance learning, reflection