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Thursday, August 6 • 14:00 - 14:30
Using Critical Systems Thinking in Emancipatory Postgraduate Supervision

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Post graduate study is a partnership between supervisor and student.  The nature of this relationship is mainly guided by the supervision approach followed by the supervisor. Identified approaches include: Functional supervision - where the issue is one of project management; Enculturation – where the student is encouraged to become a member of the disciplinary community; Critical thinking – where the student is encouraged to question and analyse their work; Emancipation – where the student is encouraged to question and develop themselves; and developing a quality relationship – where the student is enthused, inspired and cared for. It is argued in this paper that this list is not mutually exclusive but rather distinctive goals of supervision of post graduate students.

The aim of this paper is to present the structure of an action research project aimed at creating guidelines for emancipatory supervision using e-learning strategies.  The participatory action research (AR) method used in this study has five phases: diagnosis; action planning; action taking; evaluation of success; and specifying learning. This paper focusses on the diagnosis and action planning phases of the action research project.

According to the FMA model of action research developed by Peter Checkland, action research aims to develop a methodology (M) that is continuously refined through its application in an area of concern (A). The development of the methodology is guided by a framework of understanding (F).  The area of application for the AR project reported here is the supervision of dissertation based Master’s and PhD students in Information Systems at a South African university. The individual student’s studies are viewed as case studies. The methodology developed is a flexible process described by guidelines for guiding students to successful studies and development of scholars. The framework of understanding is critical systems thinking and constructivist education theory.

Critical systems heuristics developed by Werner Ulrich is used to guide the diagnosis process. Critical systems heuristics is used as a tool for participants to articulate their views on how supervision should be done and what the goals thereof should be. The paper presents findings from the diagnosis process representative of the student and supervisor views on their experiences of supervision. A total of ten students and supervisors took part in interpretive interviews. Interview questions were guided by critical systems heuristics and literature on constructivism. The qualitative data collected was analysed using interpretive content analysis.

From the findings of the interviews and results of a literature review a plan for taking action is developed to develop a flexible process described by guidelines for supervision of post graduate students. Since many post graduate students are part-time students the focus of the process of supervision should be done through electronic media.  It was therefore decided to investigate the applicability of  e-learning principles in this problem environment.

Although the implementation and evaluation of the guidelines and resulting process are outside the scope of the paper, reflection is done in terms of the FMA framework to focus on the applicability of the chosen framework of understanding for the development of a methodology to achieve the desired goals of post graduate supervision.

Presenter / Artist

Assoc. Prof. Roelien Goede

Associate Professor, North-West University

Thursday August 6, 2015 14:00 - 14:30
Stockholm 1 Scandic Berlin Potsdamer Platz, Gabriele-Tergit-Promenade 19, 10963 Berlin, Germany

Attendees (1)