Critical Diversity Education to Promote Interprofessional Understanding : A Comparison of Student Experiences Between Face-to-Face and Online Delivery

Critical Diversity Education to Promote Interprofessional Understanding : A Comparison of Student Experiences Between Face-to-Face and Online Delivery

Marion Brown (Dalhousie University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-889-0.ch006


The chapter begins with an overview of the current momentum toward interprofessional education and practice, citing specific trends in Canada as reflections of a global emerging consciousness. Initiatives undertaken at Dalhousie University are discussed in setting the context for this pilot study. Next, the pedagogy of critical diversity education is introduced and explained, with particular relevance for interprofessional education and practice. Comparison of face-to-face and online delivery of an interprofessional module based upon critical diversity education principles is then detailed, including research design and findings. The chapter concludes with a discussion of implications from this study.
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This chapter reports on results from a pilot study which explored student experiences of an introductory level interprofessional (IP) learning module on critical diversity, wherein module content and facilitation of IP group reflection were delivered both on campus and via a virtual learning environment (VLE). Data collected regarding student experience occurred through focus groups, both onsite and online, following participation in the module.

Interprofessional education and practice

There is growing evidence that IP education and practice are required to ensure the optimal health of citizens the world over (Kohn, Corrigan & Donaldson, 2005). The literature both supports the successes of IP collaboration and decries the actual and anticipated losses that result from inadequate communication, competing interests, partializing of patient need and territorial control over resources. Consequently, national health departments across the globe are committed to working with educational institutions to prioritize pre-licensure education as the ideal point of entry for learning “with, from and about” each other across the health care professions (CAIPE, 2002).

In 2003, Canadian federal and provincial health departments highlighted collaborative patient centred care as one of the cornerstones for optimal health care outcomes. Initiatives in Health Authorities across Canada have continued to prioritize opportunities for IP education to prepare for this collaboration once in professional practice. At Dalhousie University, the Faculties of Health Professions, Dentistry and Medicine formed the Tri-Faculty Interprofessional Academic Advising Committee (Tri-IPAAC) in 1997, with the responsibility to implement IP learning modules for students. For 12 years, over 3900 students annually, across 22 health professions, attended IP learning modules focussed on contemporary health care issues. While this programming served an important purpose, to date there has been no uniform means of providing IP experiences to students via an online forum. Given that one half of the professional schools within the Faculty of Health Professions at Dalhousie offer partial or whole degrees online, this gap was a key prompt in the development of the research project discussed below. The module ‘Diversity Awareness within Interprofessional Teams’ (Baikie & Campbell, 2008b) became the first IP module to be delivered online.

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