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Improving reasoning using guided design or frameworks.

Author Fionnuala Corcoran,
Abstract Reasoning skills or problem solving skills are important for any discipline where the practitioner obtains and analyses information using knowledge form several disciplines or modules to arrive at a solution or decision. Students are often expected to know how to combine the knowledge from different modules and how to analyse the information without ever having been introduced to, or practised a process to help them to do it. Literature suggests that teaching a framework will be effective to acquire information, result in better organised and retrievable information, will develop cognitive and process skills to learn and apply reasoning concepts. Research suggests that group work / peer learning is effective for better cognitive outcomes and developing confidence, and that using cases is most effective in teaching reasoning. This paper, based on an Action Research Methodology examines the impact of using a guided framework to assist first year Physical Therapy students in their Clinical Reasoning. Clinical Reasoning involves analysing the information obtained from the patients' history, hypothesising a range of different possible diagnoses, analysing the findings of a range of tests, interpreting and making sense of all of the information to arrive at diagnosis. A similar format of framework could be used in any other disciplines where a series of steps and analysis of information is required. The study which was undertaken under the auspices of the Centre of Teaching and Learning at National University of Ireland Maynooth and was based on a concern I had in my teaching situation that first year students found it difficult to analyse and interpret facts and findings for clinical reasoning, integrating knowledge from several modules. The study implemented four action research cycles of teaching using the framework. The students worked in groups using case studies. In the cycles amendments based on feedback and findings were made to progress and develop the learning. Feedback and results indicate improvement in clinical reasoning, an increase in my students' confidence in their clinical reasoning abilities and development of attributes required for clinical reasoning. The paper provides useful teaching methods for first year clinical reasoning skills, and identifies lessons learned during teaching.
Keywords Reasoning, Clinical Reasoning, Teaching a framework or guided design, Groups, Case studies, Physical Therapy
Published In ICEP Proceedings
Year 2010
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