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Using complexity theory to develop a student-directed interprofessional learning activity for 1220 healthcare students

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Abstract

Background: More and better interprofessional practice is predicated to be necessary to deliver good care to the patients of the future. However, universities struggle to create authentic learning activities that enable students to experience the dynamic interprofessional interactions common in healthcare and that can accommodate large interprofessional student cohorts. We investigated a large-scale mandatory interprofessional learning (IPL) activity for health professional students designed to promote social learning. Methods: A mixed methods research approach determined feasibility, acceptability and the extent to which student IPL outcomes were met. We developed an IPL activity founded in complexity theory to prepare students for future practice by engaging them in a self-directed (self-organised) learning activity with a diverse team, whose assessable products would be emergent creations. Complicated but authentic clinical cases (n = 12) were developed to challenge student teams (n = 5 or 6). Assessment consisted of a written management plan (academically marked) and a five-minute video (peer marked) designed to assess creative collaboration as well as provide evidence of integrated collective knowledge; the cohesive patient-centred management plan. Results: All students (including the disciplines of diagnostic radiology, exercise physiology, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physiotherapy and speech pathology), completed all tasks successfully. Of the 26 % of students who completed the evaluation survey, 70 % agreed or strongly agreed that the IPL activity was worthwhile, and 87 % agreed or strongly agreed that their case study was relevant. Thematic analysis found overarching themes of engagement and collaboration-in-action suggesting that the IPL activity enabled students to achieve the intended learning objectives. Students recognised the contribution of others and described negotiation, collaboration and creation of new collective knowledge after working together on the complicated patient case studies. The novel video assessment was challenging to many students and contextual issues limited engagement for some disciplines. Conclusions: We demonstrated the feasibility and acceptability of a large scale IPL activity where design of cases, format and assessment tasks was founded in complexity theory. This theoretically based design enabled students to achieve complex IPL outcomes relevant to future practice. Future research could establish the psychometric properties of assessments of student performance in large-scale IPL events.

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APA

Jorm, C., Nisbet, G., Roberts, C., Gordon, C., Gentilcore, S., & Chen, T. F. (2016). Using complexity theory to develop a student-directed interprofessional learning activity for 1220 healthcare students. BMC Medical Education, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-016-0717-y

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