Exploring peer group supervision in virtual teams in rural and remote Australia

Exploring peer group supervision in virtual teams in rural and remote Australia Thesis

College of Arts, Society and Education

  • Author(s): Nickson, Amanda Margaret
  • Published: 2015
  • Publisher: James Cook University
  • Volume: PhD

Abstract: Social work practice in rural Australia is influenced by high staff turnover, burnout and difficulties in recruitment and retention. The lack of professional social work supervision and lack of professional development opportunities have been identified in the literature as contributing to these recruitment and retention difficulties. Peer supervision is not a common model discussed in the available literature. In the current study, virtual peer supervision models were explored. It was envisaged that peer supervision could ameliorate the retention and supervision deficits in rural and remote Australia. The chosen methodology incorporated a qualitative, interpretive social science theoretical framework. Interpretive interactionism provided a framework to analyse the lived experiences of participants. Action research was chosen as the vehicle for this interpretive approach. A strengths-based approach was the philosophy that guided the action research activities. In this thesis, the processes involved in undertaking peer supervision with virtual teams in rural and remote Australia over a 12 month period is reported. Pre- and post-trial individual interviews; monthly group supervision sessions; online evaluations of the peer group supervision experiences and focus groups all provided a rich landscape of the experiences of participants. Three principles emerged from the thematic analysis process, which are not documented in the current literature. First, connection with like-minded professionals at a peer level within a safe (virtual) space was key to the success of these peer supervision groups. Second, structure and process were vital to the success of the groups. Third, supervision with peers in groups using teleconference technology works, and facilitates good quality supervision. Seven emerging themes further illuminating peer supervision emerged from the data analysis. These themes were: support; learning; reflection on practice; the value of diversity of social work contexts; the impact of structure or no structure; technology and the challenges of priority, preparation and time. The validity of social work peer supervision groups as a supervision option of choice is a key recommendation from this research, particularly for rural, regional and remote contexts.

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Suggested Citation
Nickson, Amanda Margaret, 2015, Exploring peer group supervision in virtual teams in rural and remote Australia, Volume:PhD, Thesis, viewed 19 May 2019, https://www.nintione.com.au/?p=11041.

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