"Starting from a higher place": linking Habermas to teaching and learning clinical reasoning in the emergency medicine context.

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Journal Article
Advances in health sciences education : theory and practice, 2020, 25, (4), pp. 809-824
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Teaching clinical reasoning in emergency medicine requires educators to foster diagnostic accuracy and judicious decision-making amidst chaotic ambient factors including clinician fatigue, high cognitive load, and diverse patient expectations. The current study applies the early work of Jurgen Habermas and his knowledge-constitutive interests as a lens to explore an educational approach where physician-educators were asked to make their expert reasoning visible to emergency medicine trainees, to more deliberately make visible and accessible the context-specific thinking that emergency physicians routinely use. An action research methodology was used. The 'making thinking visible' teaching approach was introduced to five emergency medicine educators working in large public hospital emergency departments. Participants were asked to trial this teaching method and document its impact on student learning over two reporting cycles. Based on written reports of trialing the teaching approach, participants identified a need to change from: (1) introducing thinking structures to cultivating enquiry; and, (2) providing explanations based on cognitive thinking routines towards encouraging the learner to see the relevance of the clinical context. Educators described how they developed a more diagnostic and reflexive approach to learners, recognized the need to cultivate independent thinking, and valued the opportunity to reflect on their usual teaching. Teaching clinical reasoning using the 'making thinking visible' approach prompted educators to decrease the emphasis on providing technical information to assisting learners to understand the purposes and meanings behind clinical reasoning in emergency medicine. The knowledge-constitutive interests work of Jurgen Habermas was found to provide a robust framework supporting this emancipatory teaching approach.
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