Authentic Learning in Higher Education

Sam EDWARDS
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
sedwards@usc.edu.au

Margaret BARNES
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
MBarnes@usc.edu.au

Patrea ANDERSEN
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
Panders1@usc.edu.au

Jennifer ROWE
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
JRowe1@usc.edu.au

Jessie JOHNSON-CASH
University of the Sunshine Coast, Australia
jjohnson@usc.edu.au

Abstract

Authentic learning experiences support Higher Education students to develop a sense of identity and the ability to identify with a future career or professional trajectory (Temmerman, Noble, & Danaher, 2010). Effective preparation for professional practice has been recently identified as a key issue in nursing workforce productivity and retention (HWA, 2013). Preparing graduates for professional practice in a globalised world is the ultimate aim. Students appreciate practice and action orientated learning which they perceive as relevant to future professional goals (Jeffreys, 2012). To this end simulation is a valued authentic learning tool. Simulation learning facilitates preparation for work integrated learning and future practice.

Engaging students in curriculum development has the potential to enhance student agency, authentic learning and hence effective preparation for practice. However curriculum is often bounded by professional requirements and academic priorities and expectations, without consideration to what students might contribute to the process. This area is under-represented in research and scholarship. In this presentation, we report findings from a project which investigated ways to actively engage students in curriculum. In the context of a Bachelor of Nursing program, the aim was to develop a practice model for engaging students as co-creators. With a focus on practice preparation and the use of simulation content, location and process, students first interrogated the curriculum by mapping their learning experience with the starting point being their recent work placement. Using this data students and staff then discussed the placement content and pedagogy for simulation learning within the program.

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