The analysis of knowledge construction in community based service-learning programmes for basic nursing education at two selected nursing schools in South Africa.
Mthembu, Sindisiwe Zamandosi.
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Community based service-learning is one of the fastest growing reforms in higher education, especially in the field of health care. The increased interest in this phenomenon is based on the demands by government and society that higher education institutions should be more responsive to the needs of the community. Literature, however, reflects that service learning lacks a sound theoretical base to guide teaching and learning due to limited research in this area. This study was, therefore, aimed at exploring the phenomenon knowledge construction in basic nursing programmes in selected South African nursing schools with the intention to generate a middle range theory that may be used to guide the process of knowledge construction in community-based service-learning programmes. This study adopted a qualitative approach and a grounded theory research design by Strauss and Corbin. Two university-based schools of nursing were purposively selected to participate in the study. There were a total number of 16 participants. The collection of data was intensified by the use of multiple sources of data (participant observation, documents analysis and in-depth structured interviews). The data analysis process entailed three phases; open, axial and selective coding. The results of the study revealed that the phenomenon “knowledge construction” is conceptualised as having specific core characteristics, which include the use of authentic health-related problems, academic coaching through scaffolding, academic discourse-dialogue and communities of learners. The findings showed that there are a number of antecedent conditions and contextual circumstances contributing to how knowledge is constructed in a community based service learning programme. The process of knowledge construction emerged as cyclical in nature, with students, facilitators and community members having specific roles to play in the process. A number of intervening variables were identified that had an influence on the expected outcomes on knowledge construction in community based service learning programmes. These findings led to the generation of a conceptual model. Knowledge construction according to this model takes place in an environment which is characterised by interactive learning, collaborative learning, actively learning and inquiry-based learning through continuous reflective learning processes. The main concepts in this conceptual model include concrete learning experiences, continuous reflection, problem posing, problem analysis, knowledge deconstruction and knowledge generation, knowledge verification, knowledge generation, testing of generated knowledge and evaluation of generated knowledge. The sub-concepts include learning through senses, an initial situation, health-related triggers, social interaction, reflection-in action, reflection-on action, hypotheses generation, conceptualisation of learning experiences, information validation and community interventions. Recommendations were categorised into education and training of academic staff, application of the model and further research with regard to quality assurance in CBSL programmes as well as the use of other research designs for similar studies.