The Significance of the Interpersonal Relationship in Practicum Supervision

Year: 1998

Author: Stormont, Delma

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The practicum is recognised as a highly significant time of learning in professional education, and the context of the practicum is a significant determinant of its outcome. The aim of this study was to describe the role of the interpersonal component of context in the practicum.

The practicum studied was clinical dietetics in the Graduate Diploma in Nutrition and Dietetics at Queensland University of Technology. The physical context of the study was the dietetics department of a large metropolitan hospital. The study's strategy was to view the process of supervision through the eyes of the participants, four students and six supervisors in one block of practicum. Participants completed questionnaires, interviews, journals and logs of their supervision experiences. Data analysis used orientational qualitative analysis, based on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and models of supervision as theoretical frameworks for the analysis. Results indicate that interpersonal relationships are highly significant in determining how much a supervisor can encourage learning by a student. However, students have the opportunity to learn independent of supervision. Both types of learning rely on the personality of the student. These findings are being used to re-structure material provided by the university to practicum supervisors.