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Helen Forbes, La Trobe University Michael Prosser, University of Sydney
Themes: supporting learners
Phenomenographic research has identified variations and interrelationships between the quality of learning outcomes, student approaches to learning and teacher approaches to teaching. Quality of learning outcomes depends on student awareness of what is to be learnt, perceptions of the learning environment, prior learning experiences, level of workload and choice . These co-existing perceptions and experiences are related to their approaches to learning (Ramsden, 2003). Similar relationships have been identified between teacher perceptions and approaches to teaching (Prosser & Trigwell, 1998). Research into teaching and learning of undergraduate nursing students views the teacher and student separately, when in fact they are co-constituted. Since phenomenographic research has so far only concentrated on teaching and learning in classrooms it is important to explore the relationships that exist between teachers and learners in the clinical learning environment
In trying to support learners in the clinical learning environment it is important to study clinical nurse teachers’ experiences of teaching undergraduate nursing students. This project aims to study clinical teachers’ conceptions and approaches to nursing and their conceptions and approaches to teaching undergraduate nursing students. It is intended to describe the variation in the way nursing and clinical teaching are conceived and approached by these teachers. The relationship between their conceptions and approaches will be analysed, and some implications for assessment drawn out.
Qualitative data were collected which allowed examination of the clinical teachers’ experiences of nursing and teaching. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect data and a modified phenomenographic approach (Marton & Booth, 1997) was used to analyse the data. Structured sets of categories of description from the interview data were identified for each of the conceptions and approaches. The categories of description represent the variation in the way those teachers conceived and approached their teaching of nursing students.
The data collection and analysis resulted in four sets of categories of description describing the structure of the variation of the clinical teachers’ experiences of and approaches to nursing and clinical teaching. An analysis of the distributions of the classifications in terms of the categories and an analysis of the empirical and logical relationships between the four sets of categories was also done. The analysis showed a close relationship between clinical teachers’ conceptions and approaches to nursing and their conceptions and approaches to clinical teaching. Clinical teachers who saw nursing only in terms of clinical skills focused their teaching on reproduction of skills and facts. Clinical teachers who saw nursing in a patient focused way approached their teaching on the students by trying to help them to achieve understanding and conceptual change.