Evaluating Telesupervision as a Support for Clinical Learning: an Action Research Project
Telesupervision is a process whereby distant supervision is provided using electronic information and communication technologies. This study aimed to investigate whether telesupervision can be used as an effective method of supervision to complement traditional face-to-face clinical supervision in physiotherapy, speech pathology and occupational therapy education.
Three action research cycles were undertaken between July 2010 and December 2012 in Queensland, Australia. A shared supervisory model was employed whereby telesupervision was used as an adjunct to face-to-face supervision in a variety of clinical contexts. Phase 1 was undertaken as a metropolitan pilot while Phase 2 was conducted in a regional city and Phase 3 in a geographically isolated rural town. Participants included 30 students from entry-level programmes in Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Pathology and five remote clinical educators (CE), and five on-site CEs. Evaluation consisted of clinical educator and researcher observations, a student satisfaction survey and a student learning survey. In later phases, data were collected from individual semi-structured interviews with students, remote and on-site CEs.
Results demonstrate that student learning is not compromised when telesupervision is used to complement face-to-face supervision. Further, when used with small educator to student ratios (1:4), students were satisfied with the process. Many of the benefits of the telesupervision experience appeared to be due to the shared supervisory model. Limitations were low bandwidth and unreliable connectivity that interrupted learning; however, cyclical problem solving by educators and students improved the telesupervision learning experience.
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