This project originated from an activity developed in IATL. We aim to adapt this IATL teaching tool for use in teaching Mixed Methods Review techniques and synthesis, and if successful, use it in other health sciences modules in the Division of Health Sciences at Warwick Medical School.
The pedagogic intervention component ('the project') is a teaching activity developed by Nick Monk. In his design, the activity was a 'theory building exercise' for students whereby different types of 'evidences' along the same topic (e.g. Climate Change) are depicted on laminated sheets of A4 and students work in groups to make sense of the theme in any way they choose. The students work together and create a narrative from the materials they have. Each A4 page has text, picture, graph/data points, quotes or screenshots on it. The project activity is collaborative and energetic.
Nick's activity is something we wish to translate into a health research format, particularly for the use of helping postgraduate students to understand the concept of integrating into an overall synthesis the results from studies using different methods (e.g. clinical trials, interview studies, surveys). The process of synthesising different types of data, from different epistemological camps, is one that many students struggle with.
The project aim is therefore to foster students' learning of the concepts and techniques of synthesising research of different types. We will use a type of teaching that promotes student leadership: the activity is student led; the students create the story, work together, and engage with the content themselves, largely without teacher input during the activity. After the activity we use that experience to involve them more in the learning they have just undertaken, and we will then build on that in the remainder of the session.
We aim to engage the students in their learning in a different way. To change their movement and positioning in the classroom we will include elements of open-space learning: the desks would be removed for the session and the activity would be conducted on the floor ( except where students may have mobility problems, which would be accommodated appropriately).
This project is innovative and inclusive because it incorporates a style of learning that is less often used in traditional health research teaching - the kinaesthetic style of learning (as compared to the traditional lecture). In this way we can involve students more intensively and add a diversity of teaching methods to the curriculum of the module. This is in harmony with the concepts we are trying to teach.
Finally, The project promotes interdisciplinarity through both its subject matter and approach. In the subject matter, mixed method synthesis is about combining diverse data collection and analysis methods to understand results greater than the sum of their parts. The approach to teaching is interdisciplinary because we are using methods which developed from the arts and humanities, an approach that involves movement and expression and interaction (all skills nevertheless important for health researchers, as well).