Exploring the use of experimental learning workshops and effective practice for developing professional practice among post-graduate Health Promotion students.
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Connolly, C. & Cronin, M. (2007). Exploring the use of experimental learning workshops and effective practice for developing professional practice among post-graduate Health Promotion students. Health Education Journal 66(3), 286-301.
Objective: To explore and evaluate the use of two methods (1) experiential learning workshops and (2) reflective practice within post-graduate health promotion education, with a view to providing a foundation in professional practice based on health promotion principles and critical thinking. Design: This is an empirical study exploring the usefulness and outcomes of two methods within an educational process. The study is informed by a number of theoretical and pedagogical perspectives including reflective practice, adult learning, constructivism, as well as the principles of health promotion and Freire's concept of conscientization. It involves the design, pilot implementation and evaluation of experiential workshops and reflective practice. Setting: The study was undertaken within the postgraduate Masters / Higher Diploma in Health Promotion programme at the Department of Health Promotion, National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG). Participants included 19 full-time students and six staff members. Method: The two educational methods were piloted during the academic year 2003-2004. They were evaluated by students and staff using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods, including questionnaires, focus groups and discursive processes. Findings: The experiential workshops were evaluated very positively both in terms of effectiveness as educational methods and content. The introduction of reflective practice was modestly successful as a first attempt and showed potential to make a valuable contribution to professional development. There was some evidence of students adopting the principles of health promotion as a result of participation in these processes. Conclusion: The two methods were found to be complimentary and to display significant potential to enhance students' postgraduate health promotion education through the provision of a strong foundation in the principles of health promotion as well as knowledge, requisite skills and `know-how'. This foundation will contribute positively to their future as health promotion practitioners.