The Curriculum and Pedagogic Properties of Practice-based Experiences: The Case of Midwifery Students
Sweet, Linda Phyllis
Glover, Pauline Anne
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This paper outlines curriculum considerations for the ordering, enactment and experiencing of practice-based experiences (e.g. practicums) in tertiary education programs developing occupational specific capacities. Increasingly, these programs are engaging students in practicum experiences (i.e. those in the circumstances of practice). These practice-based experiences require considerable investment on the part of all involved and so need to be used in ways that do justice to those invest- ments. However, such experiences are often provided and engaged in by students without consideration being given to their educational purposes; their likely contri- butions and how they can be sequenced and utilised to achieve those purposes. Here, the specific concern is to identify bases for considering these purposes and how these might be realised through the selection and sequencing of student experiences. A case study of two practicum experiences comprising midwifery students’ ‘follow-through’ experiences with birthing women and clinical placements is used to identify the kinds of learning that can arise through different kinds of practice-based experiences and how they might be most effectively organised. The concern, therefore, is to identify how the midwifery curriculum (i.e. pathways of experiences) can be ordered and augmented by particular pedagogic practices that assist realise the program’s intended learning outcomes. The two different practice-based experiences are found to gener- ate distinct learning outcomes for the students. The follow-throughs generate under- standings about the birthing process from the birthing mothers’ perspectives and provide goal states for midwifery work and understandings about midwifery practice, whereas the development of clinical capacities that arise through clinical placements. Consequently, the formers kinds of experiences might be best provides before, or in conjunction with second. Importantly, rather than viewing these experiences as being supplementary to what is provided within tertiary education institutions, they need to be consider as particular kinds of experiences on their own terms and engage with and utilise their contributions accordingly.