The use of imagination in professional education to enable learning about disadvantaged clients

Valerie Hall, Angela Hart

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Professional education is delivered equally on campus and in practice placements but until lately, theories of learning and teaching in higher education have focused mainly on processing text-based forms of knowledge. Even more recently introduced learning methods such as reflection and problem or enquiry based learning do not fully address the complex and often challenging learning needs of student health and social care professionals as they face the reality of everyday professional practice (Hall 2001). Working in a practice placement requires students to be able to make sense of the chaotic events going on around them that frequently evoke emotional responses, and challenge the individual's value and belief systems, which can lead to a changed outlook on life (Howard 2002). This means that the type of learning, which occurs in practice settings, is often implicit in nature and the knowledge gained is likely to be tacit making it difficult to share with others. However, what is learnt implicitly both within the placement and campus will have a significant impact on later practice and therefore we need a mechanism to 'unlock' this tacit knowledge. In this paper we propose that creative methods of learning such as developing the use of imagination may have more direct application in bringing into the public domain previous implicit learning experiences. As a means of exploring this issue we present our recent research (Hart et al. 2001), which assessed how qualified and pre qualified midwives are educationally prepared to work with disadvantaged women, an area of crucial importance, and one that is personally and professionally challenging. From the findings of this research we created a learning model which can be used by lecturers or practice educators either in the campus or practice settings. We conclude the paper with a discussion evaluating its fitness for enabling students to learn about disadvantaged clients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-202
Number of pages13
JournalLearning in Health and Social Care
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004

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  • emotional intelligence, imagination, implicit learning, inequalities in health, midwifery, transformatory learning


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