‘Since January 2012 when our first six Adult Education students enrolled, numbers have grown to where the programme now accommodates 30 students,’ said Professor Julia Preece of the School of Education on the Pietermaritzburg campus.
‘Most travel in from Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland, and all corners of South Africa but are joined by a few other full time Education students, from Namibia, Kenya and South Africa. Many more applied but were turned away because of lack of supervision capacity since some supervisors now have as many as 12 students in the cohort,’ continued Preece.
The cohort recently met for a week-long residential where newcomers were introduced to the library, the use of endnote, undertook an English language test, discussed issues of theory and presented their preliminary proposals for further refinement.
First years will attend four long weekends during the year and another week-long meeting in July. The second and third years will attend one more week-long meeting and two further weekends.
‘Although other visit times are often arranged for individual supervision, the cohort programme is designed to cater for international and long distance students who remain at their home base for the study period.’ Said Preece.
‘Cohort sessions are highly structured so that students are assisted with basic issues such as referencing, structuring of chapters, conducting literature reviews, presenting their proposal defence, thematic analysis of data and how to write for publication. Some sessions are taught for separate year groups, others are taught collectively.’
The combined resources of the Pietermaritzburg Education team ensure that students receive a variety of perspectives and understandings which contribute to enriching their supervision experience.
‘The Pietermaritzburg campus is accessible for long distance travellers with cheap, nearby accommodation at the Jan Richter Centre. Students have commented on the friendly “family” nature of the cohorts and to date 11 have successfully defended their proposals with two more waiting in the wings,’ said Preece.