Implementing a narrative-centred curriculum in an undergraduate midwifery programme: a hermeneutic study

Gilkison, Andrea
Giddings, Lynne
Smythe, Liz
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

The impetus for this study was to explore the experience of using a narrative pedagogical approach in undergraduate midwifery education. A narrative-centred curriculum was implemented with the goal of facilitating midwifery students to be self-directed in their learning, to promote their thinking and improve the integration of theory and practice through interpretation of narratives. This hermeneutic study poses the question: "what is the experience of midwifery teachers and students who participated in a narrative-centred curriculum?" The participants were 5 midwifery lecturers, the Head of Midwifery/Programme Leader and undergraduate midwifery students drawn from a class of 50 who were involved in the implementation of a narrative-centred curriculum in an Aotearoa, New Zealand University in 2005-2006. Data comprised teachers’ research conversations, an interview with the Midwifery Programme Leader, students’ focus groups and students’ written reflections. The researcher has continued to be involved in this programme through the writing of this thesis. A model based on Ricoeur’s (1984) framework emerged, which shows how narrative pedagogy can be preserved within the taken-for-granted, prefigured world of university education. Narratives are not normally seen as integral to learning processes in the prefigured world of university education which has been underpinned by behavioural pedagogy, assessment processes and economic imperatives of education. This thesis argues that when the curriculum was refigured and a narrative-centred curriculum was implemented that students learned about the art, or phronesis of practice, and the tact of teaching became evident. In the prefigured world of university education, student pass rates (student outcomes) are the measurement for the success of the programme, not the curricular processes (how students got there). This research is significant because it has shown how the art of practice can emerge when narratives are central to teaching and learning. This study has also shown how narrative pedagogy can be preserved within a prefigured world which privileges the outcomes of education over the process of education.

Narrative pedagogy , Midwifery education , Hermeneutics , Participatory inquiry , Narrative-centred curriculum
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