C. Kummer

Fachhochschul-Studiengaenge Burgenland University of Applied Sciences (AUSTRIA)
The educational fields of social work, psychotherapy, counselling, and nursing all have coaching and supervising systems integrated within their practical training programmes created to support and develop the students’ practical experiences. The implementation of such a system is often neglected by traditional business programme designs. Peer group supervision (PGS) is a unique coaching variation in which peers are empowered to handle the critical thinking process by alternating between the roles of facilitator, case presenter and counsellor. This method allows peers to be more open and authentic in sharing information, common practices and providing feedback, as opposed to the traditional supervised setting guided by an expert. The author’s main contributions are; to introduce a method which makes PGS functional for business studies, provide a course outline for teachers to integrate a flexible collaborative learning design into a curriculum, and analyse students’ perceived experiences with PGS.

A curriculum was designed for our second year’s International Business Relations bachelor programme in which we applied the PGS method to our business studies. 24 part-time students participated in the pilot programme which included 5 lessons of live teaching and 10 lessons of distance learning within a three month period. The students were asked to select a real-life situation (case) within their work environment to reflect upon. They were provided with a set of questions to assist them in analysing their situation before submitting it to the other students. Then they were given guidelines and instructions on conducting PGS. Their task was to perform two PGS meetings in groups of 4-5 students in accordance with the framework, but without any teacher guidance.

The students’ experiences were reported in the form of guided protocols in both meetings, reflecting upon and evaluating the consulting process. Analysis of these naive sketches showed that peer group supervision opened resources for the students, enhanced their communication and facilitating skills and provided room for exchange of; perspectives, ideas, and experiences in work situations. The advantages and potential pitfalls of PGS were explored while discussing the benefits and limitations of reflective learning processes in coaching situations with working students within a one semester unit (i.e.15 hours) time period.