Student supervision: myth or reality?


  • Carol E. Marrow BA(Hons) DPSN Cert Ed RGN RMN,

    Corresponding author
    1. Nurse Tutor, Lakeland College of Nursing and Midwifery, Education Centre, Furness General Hospital, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria
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  • Sue Tatum PhD BA(Hons) AFBPsS CPsychol

    1. Assistant Principal Academic, St Martin's College, Lancaster, England
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Carol E. Marrow, Nurse Tutor, Lakeland College of Nursing and Midwifery, Education Centre, Fumes General Hospital, Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria LA14 4LF, England.


This paper is based on the early findings of a qualitative longitudinal study using a grounded theory approach to analysis. A cohort of Project 2000 students and their clinical supervisors were observed in 10 different ward settings and interviewed prior to leaving the setting. A non-participant observation technique was utilized, noting the students' interactions with their deemed supervisors. The students and the supervisors were then interviewed using a semi-structured question format to explore supervision issues. The findings suggest that both students and supervisors in the study believe that supervision is an important learning strategy. However, what is believed in theory would not always appear to hold true in practice. The study identifies a limited knowledge by the supervisors of the skills and models of supervision, indicating the need for greater role preparation and a more clearly defined role specification. Supervision tended to focus upon tasks rather than issues. Furthermore, the role conflicts experienced by the supervisors was perceived as inhibiting facilitation of student learning. It is recommended that, for supervision to be more effective within the present operational constraints, it should utilize a more problem-solving approach, thus encouraging critical reflection on practice.