How do lecturers in higher education, teaching health and social care, view the phenomenon of truth within the context of their teaching?
Buchanan, Rosemary Jane
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This thesis addresses a topic which to date has not received any sustained attention within the field of health and social care. The thesis explores the understanding that lecturers in health and social care have of the nature of truth and how their conceptions of truth impact on their teaching and on their relationship with students. The study was conducted through interviews with nine lecturers, from five universities and several disciplines within health and social care, which allowed them to explore their understanding of truth in relation to their teaching. A phenomenological approach was employed, as this enabled the participants to describe the phenomenon of truth as it presented itself to them through their own lived experience and as it was imbricated in their teaching. In order to analyse the lived experience of the lecturers I used an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach because it is concerned with the interpretation of particular experiences of a phenomenon. One of the key findings that emerged from the analysis was that none of the lecturers believed that there was one version of truth but rather multiple truths or realities, often based on uncertainty rather than a certainty. The suggestion was that what was being taught in class was a theory of provisional validity rather than an absolute truth and this heavily influenced the way these lecturers saw their role within their students’ journeys towards their own versions of truth and authenticity. The study participants held that if students could become comfortable with questioning truth and accepting that more than one version of the truth exists, then they were enabled to deploy the art of critical evaluation and analysis within their own learning. Underpinning my analysis of my findings regarding the lecturers’ perceptions of their role in encouraging critical thinking and authenticity is the work of Barnet and Kreber. Barnet (2007) claimed that in order to become authentic, an element of critical thinking is required and Kreber (2013) builds on this when she suggests that authenticity is associated with being true to self in a critical social theory sense. Further key findings are very much related to the unique dimension of my study being placed within health and social care and include the connections between the nature of truth and matters such as: the participant’s identity as a health and social care professional and the influence this has on their teaching; how conceptions of truth impact on the health and social care knowledge base within the disciplines of the participants and how this discipline knowledge underpins their teaching; the relationship between the participants’ conceptions of the nature of truth and the professional attributes that feature in the participants’ teaching; and how the understanding of the nature of truth links into the health and social care curricula. The thesis concludes by discussing implications for theory and practice that appear to flow from the findings of this study.