Cohort Supervision: Towards a Sustainable Model for Distance Learning

  • Judy van Biljon
  • Colin PilkingtonEmail author
  • Ronell van der Merwe
Conference paper
Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS, volume 1136)


In response to the challenge of increasing supervision capacity while at the same time also improving the supervision experience, we used a design science research approach to guide the design, implementation and evaluation of a cohort supervision model for master’s students in computing at an open-distance university. This paper describes the implementation of a cohort programme in 2018, the findings from data collected during a focus group with students and supervisors, students’ reflective evaluations at the end of the module, feedback from the supervisors, and our reflective notes. Our main theoretical contribution is the cohort model proposed for developing supervision capacity at master’s level. Our practical contribution is a method for a practical supervision model for master’s students based on the concepts of co-operative learning and conversational theory.


Post-graduate supervision Group supervision Cohort supervision Distance education Design science 



Thanks to Sewisha Lehong and Donald Mothisi for advice and assistance in analysing our data. Thanks also to the audience at SACLA’2019 for interesting remarks relating to the incorporation of external sources to broaden and strengthen our cohort supervision model.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Information SystemsUniversity of South AfricaRoodepoortSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of South AfricaRoodepoortSouth Africa

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