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Threshold concepts in the discipline of pharmacology - a preliminary qualitative study of students’ reflective essays

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Khurshid, F, Noushad, B and Whitehead, D ORCID: 0000-0003-4131-4594 2020 , 'Threshold concepts in the discipline of pharmacology - a preliminary qualitative study of students’ reflective essays' , Health Professions Education, vol. 6 , pp. 256-263 , doi: 10.1016/j.hpe.2019.12.001.

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Abstract

Purpose: Pharmacology is widely experienced as a difficult to learn discipline. Unfamiliarity with its technical and medical terms,and how pharmacological principles transfer from theory to practice, is especially troublesome. This known state of affairs is evenmore compounded where English is not the first language of students in question. This study aimed to discern the crucial aspects ofhealth science students’ reflections from an Eastern e Mediterranean context on the learning and practice of pharmacology usingthreshold concept framework.Methods: 21 students enrolled in the pharmacology component of a four years’ undergraduate optometry program were recruitedfor this study. They were provided with prompts and guidelines to write reflective essays related to their learning e teachingexperience of pharmacological concepts and constructs in preparation for clinical practice.Results: The reflective qualitative accounts were thematically analysed using a recent version of NVivo©. The themes were crossreferencedagainst two main criteria of threshold concept framework which included transformation and troublesomeness. The keycharacteristics that eventuated was transformation - in that students felt they had transformed into students who could learn andmaster.Discussion: This study observed that learning process, when accompanied by challenges such as difficulty in understanding‘foreign’ concepts and overwhelming content, motivated the students to adopt various strategies that not only aided their understandingof the subject but also transformed them as learners. The key attribute of threshold concept framework that thematicallyemerged through this study included transformation; in that students felt they had transformed into persons who could learn (andmaster) pharmacology alongside ‘creative’ teaching methods and ‘working out’ individual coping strategies.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Khurshid, F and Noushad, B and Whitehead, D
Keywords: pharmacology, reflection, reflective essay, threshold concept, transformation
Journal or Publication Title: Health Professions Education
Publisher: Elsevier BV
ISSN: 2452-3011
DOI / ID Number: 10.1016/j.hpe.2019.12.001
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences.Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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