June 2019

It has been a bit of “letting go” of who I am as a professional (physiotherapist/ lecturer) as I progress my PhD. I had already made a career change- while still in the healthcare industry- I gave up my professional knowledge of seven years as a nurse to then train as a physiotherapist in 2000, then to teach physiotherapy in 2007. Now, 15 years after finishing the degree, I am again looking to new professional knowledge. Don’t get me wrong- I am enjoying the challenge and the change. It is just with those 15 years goes “expertise”; “networks”; “comforts”… …as well as life changes with three children (the oldest about to turn 15- you do the math) and a mother who has moved in with us (which we are grateful for).

So, I shift from being a student, to a health professional (x 2), to a health educator, back to being a student, to then [hopefully] apply that new knowledge as an educator or advisor again. This month I stumbled across an except from Barrows & Tamblyn (1980)- gurus on problem based learning- who make a challenging point: “…if medical faculty would apply to the education of students the same skill or inquiry, reasoning, and treatment design they use in patient care and research, their amateur status in education would soon disappear and students would profit” (p2-3). This is the challenge that I had when I began to consider if I should take on a PhD- “Are we truly considering the students and how they best learn? Do we need to do things differently to enable this?” The latter question was a resounding “YES!” German-American psychologist Kurt Lewin once said that “If you want to truly understand something, try to change it”. I genuinely do want to understand the pedagogies and curriculum design principles that best provide meaningful, healthcare higher education, and am starting the venture to make appropriate changes to enable this.

This month was somewhat stop-start with the end of semester examinations (three weeks). I have managed to get my head around a few key concepts that I believe will be central to my PhD. This includes:

(1) more consistency in using Anderson’s new domains of critical thinking skills (rather than Bloom’s old domains of higher order thinking);

(2) more consistency in using the term “situated learning” rather than “authentic learning”- as feel is more realistic to the clinical scenarios that may be used to develop the critical thinking skills;

(3) more clarity of theoretical framework. Leaning towards ontological realism with epistemological [social] constructivism. (Let’s see how this develops over the next couple of months, eh…);

(4) the possibility of utilising problem-based learning in the scenarios that enable situated learning.

(5) consideration of Whakawhānaungatanga (relationship through shared experiences) which may need to be embedding into the [social] constructionist approach and/ or practice theory as key concepts

I presented twice this month on topics related to my PhD. The first was at CfLAT’s “Mixed Reality Workshop” (http://bit.ly/mMRHealthcareEd) which was a summary of how the School is currently utilising mixed reality, the results of our systematic review, and where to from here (i.e. PhD). The second was at the CfLAT’s “Immersive Reality Bootcamp“. While presenting along a similar theme as other presentations, it did make me stop to thing about how I have gone about “identifying the gap” in knowledge which has now formed the basis of my PhD.

I also attended the AUT Doctoral Induction Programme. While the majority of the sessions were more reassuring that I was familiar with the processes involved, did manage to pick up a few pointers in the day.

There are (again) some concerns- which I anticipate is normal. I.e. “Am I biting off more than I can chew?”. As I look over the month, while there is some clarity of which terms to focus on, there are still many “key” concepts that I have identified. More filtering I suspect…

Things that I want to establish a better foundation on in the upcoming month include:

  • Organising a central Endnote library
  • Developing a Gantt chart as a timeframe
  • Completing my first draft of PGR9


Barrows, H. S. & Tamblyn, R. M. (1980). Problem-based Learning: An Approach to Medical Education. Springer Publishing Company, Inc: New York, NY.

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