HETI has joined the ranks of research publishers with the first issue of HETI’s eJournal, Health Education in Practice: Journal of Research for Professional Learning, available online. With a variety of papers written by academics and professionals, it is a thought-provoking read for anyone interested in health education. Along with being launched by Elizabeth Koff, at the Health Education in Practice Symposium in May, the eJournal is off to a great start.

We’d like to continue this momentum with the second issue, as submissions are now open. Papers submitted to the journal are published in two streams, Education-in-practice (professional stream) and Research and Evaluation (scholarly stream).

  • Education-in-practice papers are shorter (500-2000 words long). News about education in practice, reports on work in progress, reflective pieces and reviews are all suitable for this stream.
  • Research and Evaluation are scholarly articles, 4000-7000 words in length. They are published after double-blind peer review.

The due date for submissions for the second issue is 27 August 2018. Check our Author Guidelines for more detail or contact our editorial team.

This blog post is based on the paper ‘Pain education for clinicians in geriatrics: a study into changes in clinician attitudes and beliefspublished in Vol 1, No 1 of the Health Education in Practice: Journal of Research for Professional Learning,  by Audrey P Wang, Georgia Fisher, Jillian Hall. The full article can be found on the eJournal website.

 

Left to right: Dr. Audrey P Wang from Australian Catholic University and War Memorial Hospital, Waverley with Jill Hall from War Memorial Hospital.

Left to right:
Dr. Audrey P Wang from Australian Catholic University and War Memorial Hospital, Waverley with Jill Hall from War Memorial Hospital.

Georgia Fisher, PhD Candidate, University of Technology Sydney and Physiotherapist War Memorial Hospital & Dr. Audrey P Wang, Lecturer, Australian Catholic University and War Memorial Hospital

It’s that time of the fortnight again. You leave the ward, and follow the footsteps of your colleagues to a dim room lit only by the soft glow of the projection of a PowerPoint on the screen. It’s just before lunch and your stomach is rumbling, turning your mind to the food in your bag, instead of here. Looking around, even your manager seems to be in the same boat as you. Yes, it is time for the in-service.

While it’s easy to joke about them, the humble in-service is the main form of professional development in the public health system. Commonly, the topic piques interest, stimulates discussion, and the consensus is to implement it. But what happens when the lights come up and we leave the room?

All too often I have left stimulating presentations excited with a sense of vigour to implement it in practice. But then I get three new urgent assessments. Or I am paged to cover another ward for a colleague off sick. All of a sudden, the old way seems to be far better.

This is what I got to thinking about in the writing process for the article “Pain education for clinicians in geriatrics: a study into clinician attitudes and beliefs.” Our study showed that pain education is successful in changing clinician attitudes and beliefs, however has no effect on their orientation towards their patients. In the current model of healthcare, patient centred care is paramount. We hypothesised that the practice of clinicians with a fixed orientation towards their patient is more likely to remain fixed as well. In the area of chronic pain management, this may well be one of the factors contributing to the frequently reported difficulty of implementing research into clinical practice, a difficulty that is not specific to pain research.

We who work in public health operate within a giant, specialised and tightly regulated system. And this is an excellent thing, as healthcare is the last place that a laissez-faire attitude is appropriate. Highly specific professional roles allow each part of the behemoth organism that is the health system, to efficiently deal with their own scope of practice. However, we have to accept that this system comes at a cost. That cost is a complex and bureaucratic method of change, and a delayed integration of research into practice. In years gone by in the biomedical model of care, this was not an issue. However, as we shift ever more strongly to multidisciplinary integrated care, the system that we have built is increasingly limiting clinicians and hence, patients.

For change to be sustainable, we need to shift the way clinicians perceive research generation and acknowledge the considerable time and workload demands that are already in place. Pain education alone changed pain-specific attitudes and beliefs but was not enough to shift clinician orientation towards their patients. In the same way, education alone may not be sufficient to shift clinician orientation towards research implementation. Instead, the multidisciplinary supported approach that we take to treating chronic pain may well be successful in treating the chronic delay between research generation and clinical practice change. The same patient centred approach should be translated into a clinician centred approach for research implementation. In summary, education lays the foundation for expected changes but pragmatic systematic support must provide the scaffolding necessary for implementation success.

 

Further reading

Read the article that inspired the blog post here.

Prof Peter Goodyear, The University of Sydney

MSc IT & Learning Team, Lancaster University, 1989-90 From the left: Alison Sedgwick, Peter Goodyear, Christine Smith, Robin Johnson

MSc IT & Learning Team, Lancaster University, 1989-90
From the left: Alison Sedgwick, Peter Goodyear, Christine Smith, Robin Johnson

In the late 80s and early 90s I was course director for the MSc in IT and Learning at Lancaster University in the UK. In its first few years, the MSc ITL was for unemployed graduates who wanted to work in the emerging e-learning industry. It was a blended learning program: one of the first Master’s courses to make online discussion a core educational activity. When we launched the course in 1989, the terminology for much of what we were doing had not been invented and the technology itself was very rudimentary. No-one spoke of ‘e-learning’ or ‘blended learning’; the World Wide Web was still in Tim Berners-Lee’s lab at CERN; there was no broadband. To participate in online discussion, each of our students had to make a dial-up connection to the university’s mainframe computer. At best, they would get a data transfer rate of 300 bits per second; at worst, they would make 20 or 30 failed calls to the mainframe’s one modem before giving up for the night. Yes, only one student at a time could be connected, so none of our interactions were in real time. (I learned to like teaching asynchronously. It gives you plenty of time to think and look things up.)

We were a young course team with everything to prove and we poured every waking hour into making the course a success. This went well beyond the bean counters’ definitions of teaching. Just before the students arrived on campus for the first residential session, we realised there would be nowhere for them to get a meal. So we cooked them dinner and went to the supermarket to buy them cereals, milk, bowls and spoons. Most of them were on welfare, and we learned very quickly how to help them deal with inflexible bureaucracies, financial emergencies and getting dial-up access while homeless.

The course went well. It had ups and downs and we improvised a lot. But pretty much everyone graduated and some of the alumni are now leaders in e-learning. We had to file reports to our funding body. But nobody suggested doing a comparative evaluation, measuring the success of our program against some more traditional benchmark. If anyone had tried to create some questionnaires to evaluate the program, I suspect they would not have asked about the time we spent schlepping provisions from the supermarket on rainy Sunday nights, or cooking curry. They may have looked at our on-line teaching practices – in fact we started researching these ourselves – and they would have documented, as we were already learning through hard experience, that moderation of online discussions can increase the time you spend teaching, by an order of magnitude. Especially if you care about what you are doing. (Committed people make complex interventions work by doing things that go way beyond what is documented.)

We realised that we needed to invent some smarter ways of being online teachers, or we would burn out. So we started designing online tasks that gave students a much clearer brief about what they were to do and we gave them roles that included chairing and stimulating discussion. They took on more responsibility for looking after each other. Nothing got worse, a lot of things got better, and we didn’t burn out.

Around the same time, we got a huge grant from the European Commission to invent some ways of using communications technologies to help with the continuing professional development of people working in financial services and healthcare. We worked with 70 colleagues from across Europe, many of whom were early adopters of online education. We had an enormous stroke of luck: we found Jean Lave & Etienne Wenger’s new book on Situated Learning and we reframed what we were doing as providing infrastructure for geographically distributed communities of practice. Our design work shifted from a model based on teaching professionals about insights from the latest academic research to one based on helping them articulate, share, critique and improve the professional knowledge embedded in their working practices (Goodyear, 1995).

I first became seriously interested in educational design because it offered a survival strategy. I became more interested in it when I saw how fundamental shifts in conceptions of learning could be handled and realised through capable design work. In turn, that led me to think that design itself could be improved – with better tools and methods, informed by careful research into how designers do what they do, and what kinds of knowledge are really useful in design work. Going one step further, I think that a better understanding of the pragmatics of design can stimulate a demand for usable research-based knowledge. One can argue that much of the research in education and training is disseminated in ways that are shaped by supply-side priorities. I’m not arguing against basic, curiosity-driven research; far from it. Rather, I’m saying that weak demand sends feint signals to those researchers who want to do useful work. The clearer we can be about how designers do what they do, and what they most need to know at various stages in the design process, the more likely it is that research and design can benefit each other. That is why my first paper in the HETI journal is about Design Research: research that produces knowledge that is useful to designers.

 

References

Goodyear, P. (1995). Situated action and distributed knowledge: a JITOL perspective on electronic performance support systems. Educational and Training Technology International, 32(1), 45-55.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

 

Further reading

A personal history of the MSc ITL was published as Goodyear, P. (2005). The emergence of a networked learning community: lessons learned from research and practice. In G. Kearsley (Ed.), Online learning (pp. 113-127). Englewood Cliffs NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Some of my recent thinking about educational design (or design for learning) can be found in open access journal articles:

Goodyear, P., & Dimitriadis, Y. (2013). In medias res: reframing design for learning. Research in Learning Technology, 21. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/rlt.v21i0.19909

Goodyear, P. (2015). Teaching as design. HERDSA Review of Higher Education, 2, 27-50. www.herdsa.org.au/herdsa-review-higher-education-vol-2/27-50

Dr Kylie Murphy, Charles Sturt University

Dr Kylie Murphy, Charles Sturt University

Dr Kylie Murphy, Charles Sturt University

Evidence-based practice (EBP) in healthcare is still far from widespread and routine. The level of engagement in EBP that proponents called for back in the days of the ‘Sicily statement on evidence-based practice’ (Dawes et al., 2005) still seems a way off.

There is more work to be done, but my co-authors and I are relishing the challenge. We are thrilled to have our recent study on undergraduate EBP education published in the inaugural issue of the Health Education in Practice: Journal of Research for Professional Learning.

Our study surveyed over 200 students, from across 20 undergraduate healthcare courses at Charles Sturt University. We asked them about the contexts in which they could recall looking at research evidence and learning EBP skills, and how they feel about EBP and its role in their profession.

We believe our findings are important for informing future efforts to better prepare health graduates for EBP. Our research points to an ‘elephant in the room’ that deserves more attention.

But first, what is EBP?

Various definitions of EBP exist, but it is widely agreed that EBP is a process by which healthcare practitioners in situations of uncertainty seek out and judiciously incorporate research-based evidence into their professional decision-making. It involves a complex reasoning process that takes into account the best available evidence, our own and other clinicians’ experience-based wisdom, our clients’ individual situations and preferences, and the characteristics of our practice context.

There are five key steps for practitioners engaging in EBP:

  1. Ask – Recognise situations of uncertainty and translate that uncertainty into answerable questions
  2. Acquire – Find the best evidence available, if there is any, on those questions
  3. Appraise – Judge that evidence for its applicability to their situation and its quality
  4. Apply – Act on the evidence if and as appropriate, based on reasoning that incorporates their own and other clinicians’ expertise, client factors, and the practice context
  5. Assess – Evaluate their EBP reasoning processes and the outcomes of their decisions, to build experience-based wisdom for their future practice

Obstacles to EBP engagement have been identified in the research literature – repeatedly. Not least among these obstacles is the issue of practitioner skill and confidence. And there is little evidence that EBP skill and confidence levels among practicing health professionals are improving. Universities with responsibility for preparing students for professional health practice are clearly part of the solution.

‘The elephant in the room’

Given that many experienced practitioners lack skills and confidence in EBP, it cannot be assumed that health students’ workplace learning (WPL) supervisors are all able to provide suitable EBP modelling and guidance to students. Can we still expect students to develop the confidence and attitudes required to become evidence-based practitioners?

The answer to that rhetorical question depends on whether or not we accept the assumption that students are able to transfer their EBP learning from one learning context to another. Our research suggests that this may not be a realistic assumption.

Our research

We found that the context in which students learn EBP skills matters. For example, learning EBP skills in a research-methods subject had no impact on students’ EBP confidence or any of the EBP attitudes measured in our study. However, learning EBP skills in a clinical subject did impact on students’ EBP confidence. Learning EBP skills during workplace learning (WPL) had an even larger positive impact on students’ EBP confidence. In addition, learning these skills during WPL also appeared to increase their belief that research evidence is important in their profession.

The same pattern held true when we looked at the impact of simply exposing students to research. Greater exposure to research articles to complete university assignments was associated with greater EBP confidence. However, there was an even stronger positive association between students’ exposure to research during WPL and their EBP confidence.

It did not surprise us that practicing the skills of EBP during WPL was associated with greater EBP confidence. What surprised us was how few students recalled learning EBP skills during WPL. We were similarly surprised by how infrequently the students in our survey looked at research articles during their WPL.

So what?

The ‘elephant’ that became unavoidably visible to us during our research is too important to be ignored. Universities training undergraduate students for careers in healthcare need to look that elephant in the eyes and ask a few questions:

  1. What is expected from students and WPL supervisors in relation to developing and assessing students’ EBP skills?
  2. Are those expectations clear and explicit enough?
  3. Are students and WPL supervisors being adequately supported to meet those expectations?

Our research suggests several important directions for further research. Research is needed on what students are currently learning about EBP from their WPL experiences. More research is needed on how students’ EBP competence can best be developed and assessed during WPL, starting with nurturing an inquiring approach to practice. Just as important, research is needed to ensure that WPL supervisors feel properly supported to promote the development of their students as evidence-based practitioners of the future.

Reference
Dawes, M., Summerskill, W., Glasziou, P., Cartabellotta, A., Martin, J., Hopayian, K., . . . Osborne, J. (2005). Sicily statement on evidence-based practice. BMC medical education, 5(1), 1. doi: 10.1186/1472-6920-5-1

Dr Suzana Sukovic

 

The audience listens to the diverse line-up of speakers who presented at the Health Education in Practice Symposium 2018

The audience listens to the diverse line-up of speakers who presented at the Health Education in Practice Symposium 2018

 

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been two weeks since the Health Education in Practice Symposium. This event dedicated to research into education of the health workforce was the first of its kind for the NSW Health. The Symposium Committee wanted to create opportunities for clinicians and educators; academics and professionals; experienced researchers and novices, from different disciplines, to network and exchange ideas about education. As much as we believed in our goals, it still came as a bit of a surprise to see how much these conversations have been needed and appreciated.

During the symposium, we marked a significant milestone – the launch of the Health Education in Practice: Journal of Research for Professional Learning. Ms Elizabeth Koff, Secretary of NSW Health, launched the journal describing it as a ‘significant milestone in the HETI journey and a stepping stone in NSW health education’. The first issue scopes our territory – from theoretical reflections to practice-based research papers and reports on current news. With authors such as Professor Peter Goodyear from the Faculty of Education and Professor Tim Shaw from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Sydney, Dr Kylie Murphy and co-authors from Charles Sturt University, Dr Audrey Wang from the War Memorial Hospital with co-authors from universities, the scholarly papers in the first issue open the space for inter-disciplinary conversations.

Ms Elizabeth Koff, Secretary NSW Health (middle) with Adjunct Prof Annette Solman, HETI’s CE (right) & Dr Suzana Sukovic, editor-in-chief (left)

Delegates spent the Symposium day enjoying keynote addresses and presentations by academics, doctors, nurses, health educators and even one librarian. Interprofessional and interdisciplinary research, learning and collaboration were threads through all presentations. A/Professor Amanda Walker was our MC who skillfully guided us through the day. Tweets on the hashtag, #HEP2018, illustrate some of the main symposium themes and our collective sense of engagement. To put my money where my mouth is, I’d like to support these claims with some evidence. On the scale from 1 to 5 (with 5 being the highest approval), the symposium was rated well above 4 on all criteria, including the quality of the program and presentations. Thought-provoking keynotes, excellent speakers, and diversity of the program were the favourite aspects of the day.

Professor Philippa (Pip) Pattison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the University of Sydney delivering a keynote address.
Professor Shirley Alexander, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Education and Students) at the University of Technology, Sydney delivering a keynote address

The research workshop was organised on the previous day and it set the tone with a group of highly engaged participants. Dr Peter Stubbs and I presented the workshop with support of Dr Kerry-Ann Grant who helped with the group work. At the end of the day, participants were positive about their ability to apply their research skills in practice, and rated highly engagement and the quality of workshop presentation (rating between 4.5 and 4.7 on the scale up to 5). A picture is worth a thousand words (especially when words are there to explain them) so I’ll finish this post with some pictures from the workshop hoping for more meeting grounds in the future.

Health Education in Practice Symposium: keynote and launch speakers. Ms Elizabeth Koff, Professor Pip Pattison, Professor Shirley Alexander

The Health Education in Practice Symposium is proud to announce a line-up of prominent speakers. Join us to hear from Ms Elizabeth Koff, Secretary, NSW Health who will launch HETI’s journal, Health education in practice: journal of research for professional learning, and keynote addresses from Professor Phillipa Pattison, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education) at the University of Sydney, and Professor Shirley Alexander, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Vice-President (Education and Students) at the University of Technology, Sydney.

You will also hear from invited speakers, Professor Tim Shaw, Director of Research in Implementation Science and eHealth at the University of Sydney, and Adjunct Professor Annette Solman, Chief Executive, Health Education and Training Institute. Conjoint Associate Professor Amanda Walker will be the symposium MC. Check our Speakers page for their biographical details.

You still have time to register your attendance and submit an abstract on the symposium website.

HEALTH EDUCATION IN PRACTICE SYMPOSIUM

Research. Collaborate. Translate.

8 May 2018 | Sydney

 

Health Education in Practice Symposium 2018We invite educators and researchers from NSW Health, universities and the broader professional community to a one-day symposium to discuss current trends in evaluation and research related to health education of the workforce. The event is a rare opportunity to collaborate and learn across different health sectors, focusing on practice-based and academic educational research. On the day, we will also be launching the inaugural issue of the Health education in practice: journal of research for professional learning.

As the host, HETI (Health Education and Training Institute), believes this symposium is an important contribution to a diverse and inclusive community of practice. HETI works within the practice-based NSW Health context, and is well connected with academia. As educators, we know the importance of connecting different domains and are always looking for new ways to link bright ideas with strong educational practice.

 

CALL FOR PAPERS

Paper proposals are invited on the following themes

  • Research in education of the health workforce.
  • Evaluation of health educational programs.
  • Topics related to evidence-based health education, including theoretical considerations.
  • Issues related to conducting educational research and evaluation in practice.

There will be opportunities to prepare presented papers for a special issue of the Health education in practice: journal of research for professional learning.

 

KEY DATES

Abstract submission deadline: Monday 26 March 2018 at 10:00am (AEST)
Authors advised of acceptance: Monday 2 April 2018
Registration deadline: Monday 23 April 2018 at 10:00am (AEST)

For more details, abstract submissions and registration, see the symposium site http://www.cvent.com/d/ttq213/1Q.

Dr. Peter William Stubbs, Research Coordinator, Educational Research and Evidence Based Practice

As my previous research utilised quantitative research methods, I had never considered using qualitative research methods until recently. I had felt it was non-generalizable, subjective and anecdotal. This stemmed from a misunderstanding of what constitutes qualitative research. In research and clinical practice in the health professions, there is often a partisan view of qualitative and quantitative research, with an ‘us vs them’ mentality. Although the gap is closing, general discussion in the area suggests that these opposing viewpoints are common. In this post, qualitative research processes will be described and an argument will be provided for the use of both quantitative and qualitative methods in research.

 

What is qualitative research and anecdotal evidence?

Qualitative research is frequently used in education, nursing and social sciences research and can be useful to shape clinical practice. Koch and Harrington (1998) noted that the common general criticisms of qualitative research are that it is subjective, anecdotal and non-generalizable. If qualitative research was merely anecdotal, scepticism of qualitative research is justified. However, qualitative research is not anecdote. The definitions of qualitative research and anecdotal evidence highlight this difference. Although books have been devoted to defining qualitative research, Guest, Namey and Mitchell (2013, pp. 3) provide a succinct definition:

 

 Qualitative research

“situated activity that locates the observer in the world. It consists of a set of interpretive, material practices that makes the world visible. These practices transform the world. They turn the world into a series of representations, including field notes, interviews, conversations, photographs, recordings, and memos to the self. At this level, qualitative research involves an interpretive, naturalistic approach to the world. This means that qualitative researchers study things in their natural settings, attempting to make sense of, or to interpret, phenomena in terms of the meanings people bring to them.”


Anecdotal evidence

”informal stories.…individual narratives….any unsystematic accounts.… [with] singularity and limited replication”  (see Nunn, 2011)

Qualitative research is evidence-based and has a systematic methodology. For example, as outlined by Grandheim and Lundman (2004), qualitative content analysis should follow a series of steps, that when followed ensure the validity and reliability of research findings. These steps can differ between research groups and methodologies. Nevertheless, there are systematic and methodological approaches to qualitative research, which is similar to quantitative research. So long as there is transparency and sufficient detail in the methodology, if a qualitative study is deemed trustworthy, the results can be applied (or not-applied) based on the similarity of the studied groups.

 

How is quality qualitative research assessed?

Cope (2014) proposed that qualitative research can be assessed using five measures: credibility, dependability, confirmability, transferability and authenticity. Assessing adherence to this framework ensures the trustworthiness of the underlying conclusions.

 

Is there a place for qualitative research in health?

Qualitative research serves a different purpose to quantitative research and can answer different questions. Qualitative research can shape practice and provide insights that quantitative research cannot provide. Green and Britten (1998, pp. 1230) state:

Qualitative research can investigate practitioners’ and patients’ attitudes, beliefs, and preferences, and the whole question of how evidence is turned into practice. The value of qualitative methods lies in their ability to pursue systematically the kinds of research questions that are not easily answerable by experimental methods.”

Quantitative research can inform us that one approach is ‘better’ than another approach, to a degree of certainty, however, qualitative research can tell us the opinions and values of people undertaking the different approaches. Both types of information are important, and both types can shape a program to be more effective for learners.

Mixed methods approaches, through the eyes of different healthcare professions and different stakeholder groups are important in shaping healthcare education research. Qualitative and quantitative research are complementary and not competing. Both have advantages and disadvantages. Behavioural trends with corroborating statistical findings can strengthen the conclusions of research. The triangulation of results will lead to a greater understanding and increased effectiveness of healthcare education programs – a goal of all educational research in health.

 

References

Cope, D. (2014). Methods and Meanings: Credibility and Trustworthiness of Qualitative Research. Oncology Nursing Forum 41: 89-91.
Guest, G. et al. (2013). Qualitative Research: Defining and Designing. SAGE.
Graneheim, U. & Lundman, B (2004). “Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness.” Nurse Education Today 24: 105-112.
Green, J. & Britten, N. (1998). Qualitative research and evidence based medicine. BMJ 316: 1230-1232.
Koch, T. & Harrington, A. (1998). “Reconceptualizing rigour: the case for reflexivity. Journal of Advanced Nursing 28: 882-890.
Nunn, R. (2011). “Mere anecdote: evidence and stories in medicine. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 17: 920-926.

Jamaica Eisner, Research Assistant Educational Research & Evidence Based Practice

A Let’s Talk Research event was hosted by the Educational Research and Evidence Based practice portfolio in November on the topic of social media and its role in research and professional communication and publication. The event, Let’s Talk Research: Tweet, Post, Publish! featured a presentation by Dr Suzana Sukovic on the ways that writing professionally for Twitter, blogs, and magazines differs. During the presentation, the HETI Research blog was offered as a platform for those interested in sharing their professional work about health education and participating in blog writing on an established platform. This post is a follow up to the event, to encourage those wanting to write but who haven’t yet for various reasons.

Let's Talk Research Event November 2017

Photo from the HETI Let’s Talk Research: tweet, post, publish! event in November 2017

Blog writing is distinct from other mediums, and a skill that comes with practice. A familiarity with the format, whether as a reader or writer, will improve your knowledge while confidence will come through practice. However, a few things can guide a beginning blogger, which this post will outline. This is not a guide to starting a blog, but rather suggestions based on the profile outlined by the HETI Research blog, which is a professional research blog.

A blog’s purpose

A blog post is a medium distinguished by its specific audience, tone, length, and visual format. Blog posts explore a single idea based on research and evidence using a light and accessible tone. Belle Cooper’s post, How I write research-based posts, provides tips on how to approach idea gathering and online research for blogs. A post’s content should be substantial but still be read in a single sitting, without being theoretically dense or complex. Instead, a blog post should aim to interweave theoretical concepts seamlessly with reflection, critique, and analysis.

S. Sukovic 2015, "blog post - light but substantial"

S. Sukovic 2015, “blog post – light but substantial”

A successful blog post will present a succinct and engaging dissection or exploration of an idea relevant to a specific audience. It will be clearly linked to research or evidence, with hyperlinks if possible, so that a reader can continue with further reading. Hyperlinks can drastically reduce a word count and connect your work to that of colleagues and also relates your research to a wider context

Knowing your audience:

A blog should target a specific audience to be relevant. Understanding your audience/s will also help to develop a blog’s focus. A clear idea of who you are writing for will also help clarify how to approach writing about a concept or idea. In professional and research blogs, this may include reflecting on your own practice and asking the following questions of either yourself, colleagues, or organisationally.

  • What are the audience’s interests?
  • What are the pain points?
  • What am I curious about at the moment?
  • Has anything come up that has sparked interest?

Belle Cooper asserts the magic happens with content when:

What your audience needs plus your unique angle minus the content published by others

What makes a successful blog post as outlined by Belle Beth Cooper (https://blog.ghost.org/research-posts/)

For example, HETI’s Research Blog primarily targets NSW Health, however, it also hopes to connect with communities of practice nationally and internationally. Therefore, the blog’s primary focus will be on research, evaluation and evidence based practice in NSW and Australia but will also consider the education of large and diverse health workforces internationally.

Tone

How should you write it? The tone of a blog should be light and direct. It is not conversational nor is it formal. A way to conceptualise a blog’s tone can be to remember the purpose and audience of a blog. Blogs exist to disseminate knowledge, easily read in a single sitting, in a visually stimulating format. A particularly astute way of describing how to write a blog post is to keep it brief, be vivid, and be connected.

  • Keep paragraphs and sentences short and direct
  • Avoid jargon (especially in health, which is rife with acronyms), by explaining and contextualizing any theoretical terms and providing full names for acronyms

Length

A blog post is not the place for in depth or complex theoretical discussion, as the average blog length doesn’t allow for more than a single idea or concept to be explored. A post shouldn’t be heavy or dense with theory and research, but be grounded in research and evidence. Blog posts present information in a manner that can be reflective, critical, summative, or instructive. A good way to think about blog posts is as an opportunity to be reflective or critical about your own practice, research, and experiences and map it to literature and evidence or vice versa.

For authors of long form pieces, such as journal articles, a blog post is a chance to present your research in a more accessible and condensed format. This can link to a longer piece, and be shared. There are also guides on writing a blog post from your journal article. A blog post, however, is not a journal abstract nor is it a mini-journal article. It may, however, lay the foundations for an idea that you can further and make into an article.

 

Interested in writing for us? Send us a post.

  • Anyone interested in sharing results of their educational research, evaluation and evidence based practice in NSW Health is welcome to submit posts for publishing on the blog. We are also happy to receive articles from academics and professionals outside our organisation.
  • Contact us at HETI-HEP@health.nsw.gov.au

We are looking forward to your posts!

Jamaica Eisner, Research Assistant Educational Research & Evidence Based Practice

Jamaica Eisner, Research Assistant Educational Research & Evidence Based Practice (HETI)

Jamaica Eisner, Research Assistant Educational Research & Evidence Based Practice (HETI)

Information literacy and research are part of many graduates’ formal education. The transition from using these skills in an academic environment to a professional context, however, may be daunting. Unfamiliarity with the culture of an organisation may see graduates struggle to recognise opportunities to use their skills.

Information literacy manifests as the product of implicit and explicit social activities that are situated and collective. Organisational information literacy is practised in a context and it’s up to the researcher to understand what it is in a specific setting. Graduates streaming into health education and research may have the necessary skills, but what they require is to be enculturated into the organisation.

Unlike at university, information literacy in workplace settings cannot be seen as a goal in itself but a means of achieving goals and without it, one can feel stuck. One can feel as though the norms and values tied to information literacy are not easily accessible, as they are not systematically made explicit.

Participating in a community of practice, however, begins a process of learning where one can acquire the skills needed for full membership to a community. By working directly in a professional context, you can acquire skills by engaging in knowledge processes.

How this process is approached, however, can impact its success. Lave & Wenger advocate for the legitimate peripheral participation model (LPP), where newcomers begin on the peripheral and occupy an observational lookout post, and gradually become more involved to assemble and absorb the culture of the practice. This occurs naturally for many graduates through the process of coming into the workforce at entry-level and working upwards. Nevertheless, transferring across widely different contexts, such as academic to professional organisations, can be disorienting. From my experience, coming from information management to health education research, there a few things that can benefit the transition:

  • Learning the language of a sector
    • Learning what the frame of reference and vocabularies used are helps one learn to speak the language of a sector. For example, is it andragogy or adult learning? Medical data or health data? Digital literacy or e-health capabilities?
    • Knowing the language allows one to communicate effectively and retrieve information accurately
  • Pursue opportunities and experiences that align with your target sector, as suggested by Steven Chang in his presentation, Journeying from health to academic librarianship:
    • Join a professional association committee, volunteer, work on projects
    • Consider your own experiences and take time to document and be reflective

Starting out in an unfamiliar sector, pursuing opportunities to observe and even participate are immeasurably helpful. In my case, I was working at HETI, which as an organisation, has a commitment to contributing to a community of practice through engagement with health educators, researchers, and with the scholarship of teaching and learning. Let’s Talk Research events run monthly at HETI that give staff opportunities to learn about and engage in conversations about research and evaluation. HETI also provides opportunities for internal and external engagement through online publication, which includes this blog and the eJournal, Health education in practice: journal of research for professional learning. This environment has allowed me to develop my understanding and practice as a researcher gradually, and encouraged me to reflect on the process.

The practice of writing this blog is an example of my gradual interaction with a community of practice, health education research. By engaging with the HETI online blog platform, I was able to map my experience as a newcomer to the sector to relevant literature. The process facilitated and encouraged reflection on the sector, my own practice, and the community of practice. As an exercise, identifying and writing a piece for a research blog allowed me to participation as a way of learning, where I was absorbing and being absorbed into the culture of practice.

This article was based on these readings:

Chang, S. 2017, Journeying from health to academic librarianship. [online] figshare. Available at: https://figshare.com/articles/Journeying_from_health_to_academic_librarianship/5562262 [Accessed 20 Nov. 2017].

Clarke, S. & Thomas, Z. 2011. Health librarians: developing professional competence through a ‘legitimate peripheral participation’ model. Health Information and Libraries Journal, 28, 326-330.

Lave, J. & Wenger, E. Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Lloyd, A. 2011. Trapped between a Rock and a Hard Place: What Counts as Information Literacy in the Workplace and How Is It Conceptualized? Library Trends, 60, 277-296.

Lundh, A. H., Limberg, L. & Lloyd, A. 2013. Swapping settings: researching information literacy in workplace and in educational contexts. Information Research [Online], 18. Available: http://InformationR.net/ir/18-3/colis/paperC05.html.