THE CHALLENGES OF PHD SUPERVISION IN AN EMERGING ODL CONTEXT: A STUDY AT THE OPEN UNIVERSITY OF MAURITIUS
With open education providing accessibility, equality of opportunities and transparency to further studies, many individuals who could not pursue their postgraduate studies in the conventional universities of the country, embark on postgraduate studies through the blended learning mode of education at the only public University of Mauritius. For effective postgraduate research, there needs to be effective and sufficient supervision. However, in the context of PhD supervision in ODL African universities, the insufficient number of academics lacks the necessary supervisory skills and therefore supervision is a challenging task. This paper explores the challenges that supervisors face in guiding PhD candidates in an emerging ODL African University. For the purpose of this study, the exploratory and inductive qualitative research approach was used to gather in-depth information from 10 academics who are involved in online PhD supervision. The individual in-depth semi-structured interview was used. In the context of an emerging ODL institution in Africa, it was found that PhD supervisors face various challenges, namely a lack of research culture, a lack of mastery methodology skills, insufficient online discussion meetings, the divergent lens of academic research and an absence of an online PhD research protocol. The findings suggest that an emerging ODL institution must adopt a systemic approach to PhD supervision, adopt other models of supervision than the apprenticeship model, establish a database protocol for supervision data, and design and use a Feedback Explanation Tool and a Memorandum of Understanding to ensure a good supervisory relationship and process.
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