Expectations of Field Supervisors in Kenya: Implications for Community-based Human Service Practicums

Charlene A VanLeeuwen
Lucy Kathuri-Ogola
Lori E Weeks

Abstract


Community-based learning (CBL), which provides opportunities for undergraduate students to develop disciplinary and work-related knowledge and skills, is increasingly becoming an integral component of higher education. Similar to other countries, there is a widespread belief among employers in Kenya that there is a mismatch between university programs and labour market demands. In order to enhance the employability of graduates, many departments at a Kenyan university have incorporated work-integrated experiential learning opportunities such as practicums in the educational experience for undergraduate students. The aim of this article is to describe the expectations of field supervisors in host organisations participitating in a community-based human services program at a Kenyan University. Fifteen purposively sampled field supervisors participated in individual face-to-face interviews that included questions about their understanding of the department’s expectations of student learning activities during practicums, knowledge of the academic preparation of students in the program and challenges associated with the supervisory role. Six field supervisors exhibited some level of understanding of the expectations of their role in working with practicum students, while nine field supervisors indicated unclear expectations of the students’ practicum experience. Thematic analysis revealed key themes related to: (1) student abilities, learning goals and their contributions to the host organisations, and (2) the academic program of study and academic support available from the university faculty or staff to field supervisors. The results of our study revealed a lack of clarity around practicum expectations for most of the field supervisors interviewed and insufficient preparation of the community-based organisations to host a practicum student. Several recommendations are identified to clarify the expectations of community partner organisations and the staff providing student supervision to ensure benefits for both students and the host organisation. Results from this study can be used to inform the development or improvement of practicum opportunities focused on producing a skilled workforce.

Keywords


Community-based learning; practicums; expectations; higher education; supervision; work-integrated learning; Kenya

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/ijcre.v11i1.5439