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Critical issues in the Supervision of Post-Graduate Dissertations in Distance Education Environments

Δημοσιευμένα: Jun 9, 2008
Kofi Poku Quan-Baffour
Maurice Taonezvi Vambe

The main aim of this paper to identify, explain and advance as best practice, the principles of an alternative framework of postgraduate supervision in the context of distance education. This framework, we describe as Dynamic facilitation. The
paper starts with a critique of the African Union Commission Plan of Action of the Second Decade for Education in Africa (2006-2015), highlighting the document’s unfortunate silence on the role of distance education in Africa’s Higher education. We
suggest that this silence is due to African educationists’ reliance on old theories of learning and supervising dissertations whose main limitations are their narrow definition of higher education as residential university, and also the dominance ascribed to the pedagogic role of supervisors in the Behaviourist and Cognitive
theories of learning. We critique these theories for their inherent limitations and proceed to suggest that the context of distance education has its unique features and particularities that must be robustly engaged with, in the areas of learning and supervising of postgraduate dissertations. We then propose ‘dynamic facilitation’ as a type of supervision suited to distance education contexts. Our basic argument is that dynamic facilitation empowers postgraduate students because it allows for their initiative in generating new knowledge systems. We conclude by suggesting that dynamic facilitation takes into account the ‘distance-ness’ between supervisor and the
supervised; it integrates methods of assessment ranging from the main dissertation, to continual self-reflective assessment achieved through maintaining journal notes on work done and portfolio of the supervised’s experience during the process of

Key words: Supervision, Distance Education, Post-Graduate, Critical, Dissertation, Context, Dynamic facilitation.

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Βιογραφικά Συγγραφέων
Kofi Poku Quan-Baffour, University of South Africa
Senior Lecturer
Institute for Adult Basic Education & Training
Maurice Taonezvi Vambe, University of South Africa
Senior Education Consultant
Institute for Curriculum and Learning Development