Linguistic Ethnography e-seminar: First thoughts

The 2017 Linguistic Ethnography Forum e-seminar has kicked off!

This year the paper for discussion is Learning Safely from error? Re-considering the ethics of simulation-based medical education through ethnography by Caroline Pelletier and Roger Kneebone. Thanks to the publisher’s and editor’s agreement, the paper, from Ethnography and Education, is now freely available on the Taylor & Francis website.

The paper is a contribution to the history of ethnographic accounts of professional morality. It examines how ‘human factors’ are taught as a subject area in hospital simulation centres, and what this teaching does in making sense of the relationship between professional knowledge and mistakes at work. Contrary to claims often made in clinical policy and literature, the analysis concludes that simulation is not a safe place to learn from failure. This is because the teaching of human factors maintains professional solidarity on an absence of identified mistakes. Attention in simulation-based clinical education should, therefore, move away from defining safety in relation to technology and focus instead on how the teaching of a new moral code creates interactional risks for both teachers and learners.

As part of our role as facilitators, Fiona Copland, from the University of Stirling,  and I have put together a short response pulling together some of our responses to the paper. We also offer a number of questions which those participating discussions on the Linguistic Ethnography mailing list may want to consider. We ask:

  1. Through the linguistic ethnographic analysis, authors question the legitimacy of simulations for the pedagogic purpose of teaching non-technical skills.
  • Are there contexts in which simulations have been researched using a linguistic ethnographic approach? What was uncovered?
  • In what other educational contexts are simulations used? Are they fit for purpose?

2. As interdisciplinary research develops, linguistic ethnographers are increasingly finding that their skills are valued in other academic disciplines such as medicine.

  • What difficulties do linguistic ethnographers face when invited into new and sometimes strange contexts to carry out research?
  • How can linguistic ethnographers make their work relevant to disciplines which traditionally do not take an interpretivist approach?
  • Has the time come for a Journal of Linguistic Ethnography?

3. Sharing data with participants has become common practice.

  • What are the benefits of sharing data and what are the disadvantages?
  • Should ethics approval forms explicitly state that data could be used for this purpose?

4. The metaphor of performance is used by educators in the seminar. The watching peers make the metaphor particularly salient.

  • What should the role of peers be in simulations?
  • Should peers be expected to take an evaluative role?
  • What face issues are exposed in simulations with audiences?

5. Pelletier and Kneebone suggest that the underlying tension in the extract on page 277 is down to the perception of error.

  • Are there alternative readings of this extract?
  • What could a more detailed analysis of language have revealed about this (or other) interaction(s)?

You are warmly invited to participate in the Lingustic Ethnography Forum e- seminar,  until 22nd June 2017. The e-seminar will take place via the LEF e-mail group, and also on Twitter using #lingethnog.

The document containing the full initial response from Fiona Copland and Jason Rutter can be downloaded below.

Professional morality e-seminar: First thoughts

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