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Clinical teacher perceptions of power in the student/teacher relationship within the transformative curriculum Groening, Marlee Rose

Abstract

The purpose of this grounded theory study was to explore the perceptions of clinical teachers concerning power in the clinical teacher/student relationship within the Transformative Curriculum. The findings of this study reflect the perceptions of 10 clinical teachers who teach within several identified Transformative Nursing Curriculum within the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. The teachers were contacted using two sampling methods, the snowball method and theoretical sampling. The findings of this study indicate that these clinical teachers were generally quite committed to the transformative philosophy and minimizing power differentials between students and clinical teachers. Their philosophies were often revealed through the language and metaphors they used when discussing their perceptions about teacher and student roles and their perspectives on power. The seasoned clinical teacher beliefs and philosophies appeared to be well established prior to their employment with a Transformative nursing curriculum. In contrast, the new clinical teacher philosophies seemed to be a bit more malleable and were influenced by the curriculum. Most teachers used a variety of approaches to equalize power in the clinical settings. This was apparent in their approaches to learning experiences in the clinical setting, such as student involvement in patient assignments, engaging students in the learning process, and negotiation. Teachers also attempted to equalize power by developing relationships with students. Some approaches teachers used were to 'get to know the student', focusing on the positive, respecting the student and demonstrating teacher vulnerability and humanness. At times, the teachers experienced notable tensions between the curriculum philosophy of egalitarian relationships, and the professional mandate of the clinical teacher role. These tensions typically occurred when the realities of clinical teaching conflicted with the transformative ideals, such as when acknowledging patient safety, working with the struggling student, and in the promotion of and accounting for student learning. Tensions were also evident between the complex clinical context and clinical teacher pursuits toward egalitarian relationships with students. Examples of these included short clinical rotations, school or agency policies around incident reports as well as differing teacher philosophies. Compounding these tensions, were high teacher workload, high patient acuity, weak students and teacher fatigue. These factors consumed teacher energy, which was identified as necessary in pursuing equal relationships with students.

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