LEARNING RESEARCH FROM INTERDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATIVE WORK: HIGHER EDUCATION STUDENTS PERSPECTIVE
Ana Querido1*, Elsa Marta Soares2, Cidália Pereira3, Maria dos Anjos Dixe4
1PhD, MsC, RN, Center for Innovative Care and Health Technology (ciTechCare), School of Health Sciences, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, PORTUGAL, Centre for Research in Health Technologies and Information Systems (CINTESIS), University of Porto, PORTUGAL, firstname.lastname@example.org
2PhD, Center for Innovative Care and Health Technology (ciTechCare), School of Health Sciences, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, PORTUGAL
3PhD, Center for Innovative Care and Health Technology (ciTechCare), School of Health Sciences, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, PORTUGAL
4PhD, MsC, RN, Center for Innovative Care and Health Technology (ciTechCare), School of Health Sciences, Polytechnic Institute of Leiria, PORTUGAL
Background: Several authors point out that teamwork in health education and students’ integration into research projects should be initiated and promoted in early stages of graduation once collaborative work and interdisciplinary research have the potential to contribute to a more comprehensive knowledge. Health Care Higher Education Institutions are challenged to reflect on what and how students learn and how to involve students and educators in developing research that serves the needs of the community. Little is known about how students develop learning and professional skills when participating in an interdisciplinary collaborative research experience and what are their opinions and perceptions about being involved in interdisciplinary collaborative work during bachelor education. Therefore, this paper addresses students’ perspective on interdisciplinary collaborative learning experience during the development of Help2Care practice-based action research project.
Objectives: This study aims to characterize the collaborative learning experience of health care students involved in Help2Care practice-based action research; Characterize intergroup communication patterns; Identify advantages, facilitators, difficulties and outcomes based on their perceptions and opinions.
Methods: A descriptive analytic study was conducted using a mix-method approach. Participants included 32 students, 8 teachers and 2 health care professionals. Triangulation was conducted in an embedded design in order to enhance the comprehensive approach of students’ experience. Quantitative data were analysed using SPSS 24.0; Qualitative data were analysed according to Bardin’s thematic content analysis supported by WebQDA qualitative software analysis.
Results: All students participating in the study were in the last year of their bachelor studies. 90% acknowledged to have developed research skills during the learning experience. 5% of the students revealed they did not learn several things from the experience. Overall, involvement in Help2Care was perceived as a positive collaborative, “wellness-inducing” learning experience. Students highlighted group learning as an “appropriate space” for sharing different perspectives, experiences and theoretical-practical knowledge. Being together with colleagues from other disciplines “opened minds to new contributions”. Group dynamics was characterized by free sharing of opinions and discussion to reach consensus mediated by feelings of uncertainty and fear of being challenged and impeached. Teachers’ mediation and mentoring emerged as a positive factor. Communication patterns emphasised the willingness to communicate, empathy and active listening. The use of professional jargon was both a difficulty and an opportunity for learning. Knowledge gained in research process, acknowledgement of the importance of interdisciplinary teamwork and recognition of competences and roles of different health care professionals were pointed as main advantages. Students recognized better quality of the work developed when working together. Shortened time for interdisciplinary group working and lack of opportunities for continuing the work further on was pointed out as main difficulties.
Conclusions: Results support the importance of encouraging collaborative work among health care students to develop interdisciplinary work skills to meet the challenges of both health higher education institutions and professional health care teams. Bearing in mind the results, this pedagogical strategy should be encouraged and extended to other projects.
Keywords: Collaborative learning; Higher Education, Practice-based research, Students
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