Conference: Dr. Jo Brown’s Plenary Address to ASPE: Putting Simulation in an Educational Context – Some Fresh Insights

Conference: Dr. Jo Brown’s Plenary Address to ASPE: Putting Simulation in an Educational Context – Some Fresh Insights
By: Dan Brown, Emory University School of Medicine

Monday morning at ASPE began with a plenary address from Dr. Jo Brown, Head of Quality in Teaching and Learning at Bart’s and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, titled Putting Simulation in an Educational Context – Some Fresh Insights. Dr. Brown began with a caveat: “You may not agree with everything I say.” She paused, then added “Good.”

She went on to share with the membership some history of herself and Bart’s (full name: The Royal Hospital of St. Bartholemew), which was founded in 1123 by the monk/jester Rahere. She took us briefly through the hospital’s associations with Joseph Merrick and Sherlock Holmes on the way to 1974, when she arrived as a nurse and made the observation that, in her words, “When people were great at communicating, their patients got better quicker.” Her bio states that she “has been teaching since 1992, has specialized in Clinical Communication as a topic since 1998, and her passion for the subject is “infectious.”

She stressed at one point in her talk that she prefers the term “Clinical Communication” over “Clinical Skills” or “Communication Skills,” because “Skills are the tip of the iceberg.”

When Dr. Brown went into her observations and beliefs about education, she voiced a thought that got the room murmuring with assent: that we’re “hardwired to believe that our own education is the ‘right’ way to learn.” She added that it’s better to not be a purist about learning. She showed a graphic with an arrow leading from one brain to another, illustrating the way many teachers think of learning: a direct transfer from the teacher’s brain to the learner’s brain. She stated that she remains unconvinced that this is how learning happens.

With some lighthearted jabs at the name, she then introduced us to the “Recontexualisation Framework” with these four bullet points:

  • Comes from a workplace learning theoretical stable
  • Unites the learner with the context of learning and the culture that influences it
  • Accepts that knowledge, skills, and attitudes change and develop as they move between and around learning contexts
  • Accepts that knowledge and skills are never ‘static,’ but develop, change, and are transformed

Next, she introduced the four kinds of Recontextualisation (she’s British, so we’re keeping her spelling); all of which are important:

  • Content Recontextualisation – identifying knowledge from primary disciplinary sources and selecting for inclusion in a curriculum
  • Pedagogic Recontextualisation – the knowledge is selected, contextualised to the curriculum, and teaching methods are designed
  • Workplace Recontextualisation – tutors teach by a mixture of modeling, mentorship and teaching mediated by workplace culture and practices
  • Learner Recontextualisation – learners develop strategies to bring together tacit and taught knowledge in order to create new knowledge, skills, and attitudes

Finally, she asked the key question: “How do we aid learning?”

The answer involved seven “chains of Recontextualisation”:

  1. Links between simulation and the workplace
  2. Gradual release of responsibility and knowledge
  3. Learning conversations
  4. Using workplace resources
  5. Sharing problems
  6. Senior staff acting as knowledge brokers
  7. Shared accreditation

Dr. Brown’s words clearly resonated with the membership, and thoughts voiced in her plenary were repeated often later in the week, and back home at least at my own institution. You can read more about Dr. Brown here.

Publications Committee Mission: “To bring high quality reporting of current research, trends, techniques and information regarding SP methodology and other relevant industry articles to the attention of the membership through the web-based ASPE eNews blog.”

Please provide comments, questions or suggestions about the ASPE eNews Blog here.

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