Friday, June 26, 2009

Audit Based Learing (ABL)


I have always secretly wanted to come up with a new(ish) educational acronym. It's a bit like adding a stone to the top of a mountain cairn (here's Asher doin just that on top of Pen-y-Gadair Fawr, Black Mountains). Whether this is new or not... nah!!! No such thing as an original thought these days. But anyway... Audit Based Learning. First of all, I have to say that I do not like the term audit, something from my sad days trying to learn about accountancy. But In strong contrast, I have been surprised to see how misty-eyed even quite irenic nursing folk get at the mention of the word. I think the potential for this is actually quite good or I wouldnt be bothering to mention it. I mean, why on earth add to the passing fads and theorising that education is regularly slated for...!?! It came up at a meeting where we were discussing the research and informatics content of the curriculum and the need to move to something that would integrate research. We were hatching something like inquiry based learning but noting the difficulty of getting nurses and theory/research to understand each other. It was said that nursing audit is a similar activity to research in many ways, and far less grand, complex and fraught. It is research with a small 'r'. Implementing this would require more than just calling research by another name. And we would have to sit on our hands to ensure that we didnt tie down the students with masses of guidelines and red-tape (as sometimes happens with reflections, so called). It has the potential to engage students in the pursuit of knowledge, framed in terms of their practice areas but within the context of higher education. It could be a new way to promote connections across the theory-practice divide where it matters most, inside the heads of students. Delusion of grandeur moment over (for now).

5 comments:

Anne Marie said...

Hello Mike
We already use audit in learning in the 4th year medical course... although some think the quality of audit is not so good.
It would be great to meet up wothyou to have a chat about this. Even better if we could think about doing something inter-disciplinary. That's got you nervous... hasn't it!

Mike said...

Hi Anne Marie - yes - quaking in boohtz. We also feature audit (I think it's around the time they study management issues) but not as a way to soft-soap research. I am grossly generalising now, but guessing that your students dont need that kind of approach. Am getting a headache trying to think of how the students, interprofessionally speaking, would do division of labour %-/

Anne Marie said...

Have you time for a quick chat this afternoon/tomorrow?

Mike said...

Thanks for your time Anne Marie - clearly what I'm saying is nothing new, but the vision is important - to facilitate learning about research by obliging students to invest in 'finding out' something, rather than being tied up in red tape or bored stiff by lectures about research which people often even detest giving. What's underpinning this is my personal theoretical hinge #2 - try and keep in mind what the learner is actually doing and #5 try and map the learning opportunity as closely as possible with their life/work trajectory to make it as authentic as possible.

Anne Marie said...

Where can I find your 5 guiding theories in full?
It was really useful to meet up- we should do so more often.
I still think there should be some way of learning about other disciplines through this. Last year my audit group looked at use of compression stocking as prophylaxis for DVT and this year it was also an are which involved midwifery staff (information on caesarian section).
In our practice we audit and discuss management protocols along with the nurses in the practice.

So it seems to me that most audit needs a team of different disciplines looking at that. How we could make that work in an undergraduate setting is perhaps a challenge.

But will keep thinking about it!