Title

Learning to be Interdisciplinary: An Action Research Approach to Boundary Spanning

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Heath Education Journal

Volume

64

Issue

1

Publication Date

3-1-2005

First Page

5

Last Page

12

Abstract

Objective This study explored challenges and barriers that need to be addressed in a preprofessional educational setting to provide opportunities for boundary spanning that leads to family-centred interdisciplinary service provision.

Design The design employed in this study was participatory action research, an inductive approach.

Setting The study took place during a semester-long, one-credit elective graduate seminar course.

Method The study included five faculty members and eight graduate students from the fields of audiology, speech-language pathology, and rehabilitation counselling. Data gathering techniques used included observation, dialogue, and reflection.

Results Three themes were identified as important in providing an environment conducive to collaboration between professionals and families, namely:

1 the need for acceptance of differing perspectives,

2 empowerment and its contribution to the process of inquiry, and

3 self-awareness in the learning process and the resultant increase in awareness of others.

Conclusion While all participants confirmed the importance of trust, empowerment, low risk, and clear definition of process goals, both faculty and students found it extremely difficult to break out of their familiar routines. Given how difficult it was to surface and test assumptions in this context, these findings provided insight into the challenges interdisciplinary teams will face when they try to work with families as equals in the treatment decision-making process.

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