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Educator–student talk during interprofessional simulation-based teaching


Background Simulated learning environments are increasingly common in interprofessional education (IPE). While reflection is key to simulated learning, little is known about the nature of these conversations during simulation. The aim of this exploratory paper was to quantify communicative features of conversations during interprofessional simulation scenarios between dietetics students, speech-language therapy students and their educators.

Methods Conversations between students and educators during the pauses between simulated scenario phases were recorded and transcribed. Student and educator utterances were quantitatively analysed for speech acts, question types and elements of IPE (clinical reasoning, roles and responsibilities, client and family centred care, interprofessional collaboration, clinical procedural tasks).

Results Across 1340 utterances from six scenarios, analyses of conversational speech acts and question types highlighted similar patterns of usage between two educators despite different clinical scenarios and professional backgrounds. Educators used a minimally higher proportion of open compared with closed questions, and higher-level problem-solving questions predominated in comparison to simple factual questioning. Educators used more requests for action and attention and students displayed more performative and responsive acts (p<0.05). Students were exposed to all elements of IPE through conversations in all scenarios.

Conclusions Conversations during pauses in immersive simulated scenarios between educators and students enable rich IPE opportunities and higher-level problem-solving. Educators encouraged students to problem solve within and across disciplines with open questions. Educators provided few factual responses to questions themselves rather diverting questions back to the students. This approach to the analysis of conversation can support educators to evaluate their own communication during interprofessional simulations.

  • interprofessional education
  • simulation based learning
  • debriefing/facilitating
  • communication
  • allied health
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