Instructional Design at the Front Line: A Reflection on Epistemology and Meaning Making

Instructional Design at the Front Line: A Reflection on Epistemology and Meaning Making

DOI: 10.4018/979-8-3693-1078-6.ch004
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The purpose of this chapter is to provide an illustrative pedagogical case study that demonstrates that the whole notion of epistemic transformation can be regarded as a means of defining and consequently constructing the goals of scholarship, its place in the construction of knowledge, and perhaps more significantly in the framing of applied researcher epistemic positionality. Contemporary society and the shaping of epistemic context of meaning making and the situational specificity of its practice mean that both professional identity and professionalism are contextualized and framed within metacognition and the capacity of individuals to make sense of both their own sense of self concept and their wider collective contribution to communities of practice.
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‘To begin with, we put the proposition: Pure phenomenology is the science of pure consciousness.’

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)

Responses to educational reform have meant that in terms of the future potential employability of students, there has been a corresponding rise in needs-led curriculum design and new and innovative pedagogic approaches in digital interactivity in UK higher education (Tsiotakis & Jimoyiannis, 2016). The new Bachelor of Science Honours Degree (BSc Hons) in Adult Nursing Practice at the University of Sunderland was designed in partnership with stakeholders from regional trusts, patient care and public involvement representatives and academic staff with a resultant mission statement of ‘Education Transforming Care.’ The construction and labelling of a relatively disparate set of university IT systems (e.g., the virtual learning environment, e-portfolios and Padlet) collectively as the ‘Nurse Navigator System’ was routed in the principles of broader design research where methodologies of teaching, learning and assessment were used to drive educational innovation within and between clinical and academic teaching. In terms of pragmatic design and appearance this was relatively straightforward.

The rationale for developing a digital navigator system was threefold:

  • Using technology and strategic pedagogic design to simultaneously drive human relationships at the heart of both the patient and student experience

  • Driving an integrated curriculum

  • Maximising the potential of student nurses to simultaneously be functionally competent, authentic in their provision of care and workforce-ready upon completion of their studies at the University.

This chapter has been written to provide a source of reflection on the process of curriculum justification, design, development, and implementation for academics within global HEI settings. It does not seek to provide generalisable research, but rather provides an account of experience, some of which may be potentially transferable to other similar educational contexts and settings.

Alongside critiques of higher education curricula in relation to their relative complexity, the identification of the critical level, timing, collaboration and interaction amongst academic and clinical staff and their students has become increasingly important (Duncan-Howell 2010). The BSc (Hons) Adult Nursing Practice programme provided an opportunity to drive authenticity and flexibility in education with the extant operational Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) platforms and learning technology of the institution. It also, most importantly, was an opportunity to personalise opportunities for educators across the programme to interact and communicate with one another whilst in different contextual settings and bases (Chieu & Herbst, 2016). The program was also designed to integrate the co-construction of knowledge and fostering and advocating social interaction between students, their peers, their clinical educators and academics was seen as a mechanism of empowerment for all (Yen et al, 2012).

Relationships and patterns between points of interactivity online provide an insight into students’ behavioural activity and level of engagement, highlighting the affordances and limitations of student online learning activity (Lee & Bonk, 2016).

Strategically, the design of the navigator system focused on three key areas:

  • 1.

    Learner/People Interactivity: The potential for academic staff, students and clinical mentors and link tutors using the system to communicate and interact with one another regardless of the context of nurse educational provision (clinical or academic)

  • 2.

    Learner Interface: The devices and computer programs that enabling processes of interactivity

  • 3.

    Learner Content: The interaction that takes place between the student and the VLE content of relevance to clinical or academic learning

Key Terms in this Chapter

Curriculum: The academic content of a formal process of study, which usually incorporates specific learning standards and objectives, along with their mechanisms of delivery and assessment.

Epistemic Bias: The cognitive basis of meaning making, which is influenced directly by positionality.

Reflection: The process of contemplation or serious thought, pertaining to events that have previously happened, which can then potentially inform processes of reflexivity.

Cognition: The mental process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and experiential perception.

Temporality: The concept of existing within or being influenced by time.

Positionality: The concept of location in time and space which influence personal assumptions, pre-suppositions and understanding of the external world, the expression of which provides an insight into what is individually interpreted.

Situational Specificity: The context bound nature of events, which provide a degree of uniqueness and impact on whether generalisability or potential transferability in research are possible or warranted.

Knowledge Construction: A process which produces new understanding or knowledge which exceeds something that any one individual could achieve. It is based on the building of new knowledge on that which is pre-existing.

Truth: Pertains to that which is true in accordance with an evidence base which is founded in fact or reality.

Critical Thinking: The process of being able to objectively analyse and evaluate a specific subject area or issue.

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