22 SES 08 C, Academic Work and Professional Development
Who we are, and who we are seen to be, underlies what we do in healthcare education (Monrouxe, 2010). Identity concerns a person’s self-representation and positioning. In other words, it is about how a person understands his or her relationship to the world. It has been argued that successfully embracing both academic and professional identities is necessary for students. An academic identity (e.g. a problem solver, a self-directed learner, a group member) affects students’ intents or the desires to participate in classroom (Duff, 2002; Morita, 2004; Norton, 2000; Toohey, 2000). Morita’s (2004) study of negotiating identities in Canadian classrooms found that students exercised their agency and actively negotiated their identities in order to participate in the classroom. A strong professional identity (e.g. a doctor, a dentist, a speech therapist) enables students to practice with confidence and a professional behavior (Freedman & Holmes, 2003; Monrouxe, 2010). Monrouxe, Rees, and Hu (2011) indicate that students in three medical schools who experienced early clinical practice showed complex, embodied understandings of professionalism. Therefore, it is important to investigate how these identities play a role in healthcare education, and what consequences may follow in their learning experience.
The issue of identity has been a critical component within the social sciences and education for decade. However, there is a dearth of research on identity in problem-based learning (PBL) within healthcare education, although PBL has been widely recognized as a major research area in student learning and pedagogy in higher education. Emerging research in healthcare education has begun to discuss the subjects of identity and identification (Lingard, Garwood, Schryer & Spafford, 2003; Madill & Latchford, 2005), which mainly have focused on a professional identity in clinical practices. In PBL curricula, students may embrace multiple identities (e.g. academic, professional, personal) which are affected by global educational and financial environment as well as higher education transformation. Students may face challenges, uncertainty, and struggling as learners and practitioners in the process of strengthening their academic and professional development. Given this lack of research, this proposal aims to explore how undergraduate students’ multiple identities are constructed in PBL curricula (PBL tutorials, self-directed learning, and clinical practice) in an Asian English-medium institution where PBL is a major teaching and learning approach used in healthcare education.
Critical discourse analysis (CDA) can be invaluable in understanding how student identities are constructed in PBL discourse. Developed from Wenger’s (1998) social theory of identity formation and negotiation as well as discourse analysis particularly critical discourse analysis (Fairclough, 1992, 1995, 2003; Phillips & Jorgensen, 2002), issue of identity in this proposal is addressed as ongoing dynamic process of identification, negotiation and reconstruction. Students’ multiple identities, which are linguistically and socially constructed, affect healthcare education in terms of students’ active participation in PBL (e.g. PBL tutorials, self-directed learning and clinic practice), students’ relationships with others (e.g. their groupmates, facilitators, patients) and with themselves. Students’ identity is not just a negotiation of being, but is also developed in opposition to perceived ‘others’ (Tajfel & Turner, 1986). Such a study provides useful information about how students’ multiple identities are constructed which may affect their learning experience in higher education. In summary, the objectives of the study are:
a) to provide an insight into which identities are identified in students’ talk in PBL as well as how students’ identities are constructed and negotiated in PBL programmes across three Faculties;
b) to explore the issue of identity by extending the educational space e.g. PBL programmes to the social, cultural, and political dynamics of language use.
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