22 SES 04 B, Teaching, Learning and Assesment in Higher Education
While the traditional ‘master and apprentice’ research supervision has its merits, recently there has been increasing interest, particularly in Australia and the UK in investigating alternative forms of research supervision with the aim of improving student learning and reducing completion time (Samara, 2006). The strategies of providing research students with support within a learning community or using group supervisors have been identified in the literature (Hortmanshof & Conrad, 2003).
A community-based supervision model was designed for a Doctor of Education (EdD) distance programme, offered by a research-intensive university in New Zealand. This collaborative and distributed supervision model was based on the community of practice framework (Lave & Wenger, 1991), as well as computer-supported collaborative learning and social learning theories (Stahl, 2006), conceptualising “supervision as a social practice and learning as a social and socio-cultural phenomenon” (Samara, 2006, p.117). In this model, a group of doctoral students with different research interests worked regularly within an online learning community together with their supervisors, sharing and discussing ideas, hey shared and discussed ideas, and critiquing each other’s work. Studnets were engaged in a collaborative process to construct knowledge, and with the support of their supervisors, they were enculturated into the academic research community.
This paper presents findings of a study conducted in 2009 to evaluate the learning outcomes of this model. It addresses three research questions: (1) had a learning community been successfully established; (2) to what extent did students support each other in developing their thesis research proposals; and (2) to what extent did students engage in knowledge construction in this learning community?
Hortsmanshof, L., & Conrad, L. (2003). Postgraduate peer support programme: Enhancing community. Paper presented at the HERDSA Conference: Learning for an unknown future, University of Canterbury, Christchurch New Zealand, 6-9 July 2003. Lave, J. & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Samara, A. (2006). Group supervision in graduate education: A process of supervision skill development and text improvement. Higher Education Research & Development Journal, 25(2) , 115-129. Stahl, G. (2006). Group Cognition: Computer support for building collaborative knowledge. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press
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