Using narrative pedagogy: learning and practising interpretive thinking

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Abstract

Aim

This paper reports a hermeneutic study undertaken to explicate students' experiences in educational courses in which teachers enact Narrative Pedagogy.

Background

International interest in developing and implementing discipline-specific pedagogies is becoming commonplace as teachers respond to the challenges of preparing students for contemporary practice. Lifeworld Pedagogy, developed in Scandinavia, and Narrative Pedagogy, developed in the United States of America, Canada and New Zealand, are two approaches developed from nursing research for nursing education that provide teachers with research-based alternatives to conventional pedagogy. Further research is needed, however, that addresses how new pedagogies are experienced in schools of nursing.

Method

Teachers and students from 22 schools of nursing in the United States of America were interviewed over a 4-year period between 2002 and 2005. Using interpretive phenomenology as the philosophical background and Heideggerian hermeneutics as the method, accounts from 52 participants were analysed by a research team.

Findings

The theme Learning and Practising Interpretive Thinking reveals how reform is occurring in schools of nursing that use Narrative Pedagogy. It documents how Narrative Pedagogy helps students challenge their assumptions and think through and interpret situations they encounter from multiple perspectives. Findings suggest that by focusing teachers' and students' attention on thinking and interpreting as communal experiences, interpretive pedagogies such as Narrative Pedagogy engage teachers and students in pooling their wisdom, challenging their preconceptions, envisioning new possibilities for providing care and engaging with others to ensure patient-centred care and safety.

Conclusion

By documenting students' experiences in courses in which Narrative Pedagogy is used, this study provides teachers with research-based evidence to guide their pedagogical decisions. It extends international efforts to develop discipline-specific pedagogies and offers a practical, student-centred approach teachers can use to enhance students' thinking.

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