Approaches to learning of postgraduate healthcare professionals in an outcomes-based curriculum

Joyce, Pauline (2011) Approaches to learning of postgraduate healthcare professionals in an outcomes-based curriculum. [Conference Proceedings]


This presentation focuses on a study which explored the approaches to learning of postgraduate students from the healthcare profession. Their experiences are placed within the perspectives of their lecturers and external examiner for the programme. I employed a phenomenological approach, through the lens of fourth generation evaluation, to gather student’ experiences as insider stakeholders. Previous research relevant to this topic has tended to focus on exploring deep and surface approaches to learning using phenomenography or psychometric inventories, from the students’ perspectives. Research on conceptions of teaching has been carried out separately. It is not clear from the studies reviewed what type of curriculum was in use. Moreover, despite evidence suggesting that learning approaches are complex and vary across disciplines and cultures, this line of research has tended to portray learning as a single phenomenon which can be understood in isolation from the contextual influences of the teachers and the curriculum itself.Prior to in-depth interviews with students I analyse the curriculum as documentary evidence and interview lecturers and the external examiner to contextualise the student experiences. This pluralistic evaluation allows the relationship of experiences to be understood in the context of external influences. I draw on Barnett and Coate’s domains - knowing (learning as knowledge), acting (learning as doing) and self (learning as personal and professional development), as the conceptual framework, to understand and communicate findings from all stakeholders. The main engagement of students in learning is in the domain of acting, with a focus on application to practice and alignment of the learning outcomes. However, there are variances in emphasis within all domains from the stakeholders. The findings suggest a need to restructure the curriculum model of the programme to better represent the dynamic nature of an engaged and living curriculum for postgraduate students with different learning agendas.

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