African Journal for Physical Activity and Health Sciences

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Challenges, opportunities and achievements of nurses’ research supervision across language borders

L Roets, JE Maritz


Nurse educators and researches are calling for national and international nursing education research to align resources within and outside the discipline, across borders and geographical distance to create a knowledge base, and to prepare the future generation of nurse researchers who will advance knowledge. This paper explores the challenges, opportunities and achievements that nursing students face when supervised across culture, language borders and distance. A qualitative, exploratory, single descriptive case study was used in the city of Lubumbashi in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A total of 18 participants took part in this study. The participants included 16 master’s degree students in nursing, one external supervisor and one interpreter. Data were collected through guided narrative reports, debriefing interviews and examination reports. Data were also analysed through an inductive thematic approach. Challenges that students experienced included language as a barrier to learning and communication, lack of resources and subject knowledge, which resulted in delayed completion of the degree, and negative emotive experiences. Opportunities that sustained the students during the supervisory relationship referred to the existence of a constructive learning climate, competent facilitators, affirmative personal attributes of the students and an optimistic future focused perspective. The success of this programme is reflected by the achievements of ten students obtaining the master’s degree and six their postgraduate diplomas. The Open and Distance Learning environment opens up the opportunity to pursue studies over geographical distances.This cohort of nursing students demonstrated that challenges may be overcome through resilience, self-regulation and passion from all stakeholders.

Keywords: Nursing, supervision, research, education, scholarship, open and distance learning.

AJOL African Journals Online