'Hasten slowly, you will soon arrive': Space, dialogue and participation in support of a Dialogical Curriculum Framework

John Stephens

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


Contemporary higher education, healthcare and healthcare professional education is changing continuously. In times characterised by change and uncertainty, with increasing opportunities for networking and collaboration, educational curricula with an emphasis on ‘process’ rather than a more traditional, mechanistic emphasis on ‘product’ would seem appropriate in looking towards the future. Informed by themes derived from a sample of six published papers that reflect a collaborative (interprofessional) approach to education, an argument for a process-driven Dialogical Curriculum Framework is proposed for pre-registration physiotherapy education.

A methodology of symbolic interactionism is employed to frame argument from a broad perspective of impermanence and interdependent arising, in the promotion of space for reflection and dialogue to shape learning and professional identity. Learning and emergent professional identity occurs through individuals’ social definitions in turn influenced by knowledge and power relationships. The dialogical curriculum seeks to promote a more even distribution of knowledge and power through participation and co-production, in the pursuit of tolerance and coherence to support learning and identity.

The parameters and dynamics of the Dialogical Curriculum Framework are represented through the interdependent relationship between four personal and professional attributes, four professional learning themes, and ten professional learning constructs. The processes of space for reflection, open dialogue, participation and symbolic interactionism drive the curriculum, within the context of UK policy and society. The emphasis on the pursuit of person-centred care makes it important for students to make connections with their own and other professions / disciplines to reflect the complexities of contemporary healthcare – an understanding of the ‘whole’ rather than fragmented parts.

Implications for other healthcare professions pre-registration curriculum design is discussed within the context of change in higher education and healthcare professional education. Present day learners are recognised as naturally creative, active problem solvers which combined with process driven curricula provides the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, values and behaviours required in the education and learning for practitioners of the future.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Northumbria University
  • Machin, Alison, Supervisor
  • Davies, Jane, Supervisor
Award date18 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 Apr 2019


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