Kofi Poku Quan-Baffour, Critical issues in the Supervision of Post-Graduate Dissertations in Distance Education Environments, Ανοικτή Εκπαίδευση: το περιοδικό για την Ανοικτή και εξ Αποστάσεως Εκπαίδευση και την Εκπαιδευτική Τεχνολογία, 4|2008, 7-16

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. Thepaper 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. Wesuggest 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 Cognitivetheories 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 thesupervised; 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 ofsupervision.Key words: Supervision, Distance Education, Post-Graduate, Critical, Dissertation, Context, Dynamic facilitation.

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