Seminar 5 Summary

Student Views, Student Voices: Nursing students’ perspectives

Seminar 5 focused on giving space to students’ voices. The seminar was attended by seven nursing students from different parts of the country and facilitated by two members of our team. The day allowed for informal discussion of the themes raised in previous seminars and of students’ perspectives on such themes and as well as on the contribution of the social sciences to their learning more broadly.

In the first half of the day, most of the discussion revolved around the definition of what counts as social sciences (which should be clearly stated at all times, without taking for granted any prior knowledge students may have), the extent to which the relevance of the social sciences to nursing education and practice is made explicit and accessible to students, and the challenges that characterise students’ learning experiences (e.g. modules being disjointed; clinical teachers being unaware of what has been covered in the modules; clinical teachers not always articulating or explaining their practice; lack of commitment to teaching and learning in some places, as demonstrated by understaffing and/or lack of protected teaching time for mentors; sign-off mechanisms inhibiting meaningful dialogue between students and educators; perceived dramatic gap between theory and practice).

The second half of the seminar was dedicated to discussing possible ways in which the perspectives and tools offered by the social sciences could be better integrated in students’ learning experience. Examples included: students receiving feedback from patients via their mentors (i.e. mentors asking patients for feedback on students, then reporting back to students anonymously); more communication across years of course (in some places 3rd year students organise teaching sessions for 1st year students); students shadowing managers to get a flavour of organisational issues underpinning clinical practice; facilitated peer group discussions based on case scenarios (relatively unstructured, well facilitated, and not counting towards assessment or sign-off); students carrying out an ethnographic exercise as first task on placement; learning from comparing practices across universities and curricula; ensuring some reflection on the role of the social sciences takes place after students have been in practice; given the wide theory-practice gap students perceive, placing the social sciences not as an ‘academic’ subject belonging to the ‘theory’ but as a subject to be taught/discussed in practice, with concepts and ideas being arrived at through discussion rather than delivered in lectures; using more case scenarios from practice; allowing for more feedback on what is said and done in practice as a means to form a critical thinking habit.

Following these discussions, the group distilled three main themes around which to organise a presentation to develop with the support of our team over the following months and offer as a prompt for further discussion at the final seminar in London in March 2016.

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