Clarifying ambiguity in problem fieldwork placements: Picking up and dealing with problem signals
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Grounded theory methodology was used to explore the experience of fieldwork supervisors dealing with 'problem' students. Seventeen supervisors were interviewed and further data were derived from informal observation and relevant literature. What the participants in this study found difficult was ambiguity or uncertainty about the student's performance and other issues related to the fieldwork placement. The ambiguity was managed by a clarification process that occurred in three phases: the pinpointing phase during the placement, the deciding phase at the end of the placement and the closing phase after the completion of the placement. Ambiguity was evoked in the supervisors when they first picked up signals of potential problems. Discussion focuses on strategies aimed at picking up signals early enough to facilitate the clarifying process and thereby preventing the supervisor's self-doubt and personal sense of failure.
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