Conferences as a novel approach for facilitating learning

David Pinnock, Emily Gartshore

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


This presentation discusses experiences of developing two institutional conferences for students; one was outside the curriculum and led by students, the other was built into the course structure. Both brought in external speakers and reflect a high level of partnership working between students, academics and practitioners.
Both conferences were very successful. The student led conference was targeted at students, academic staff and practitioners. It focussed on the vision for nursing and inspiring pride in the profession going forward, and apart from intermittent consultation with academic staff was entirely organised by students. The second timetabled conference was an element of the undergraduate nursing course. It focussed on innovative approaches to delivering complex care. Expert practitioners and services users were selected to offer insight into complex care issues.
These conferences presented a unique approach to student learning, providing an opportunity to network with academics, practitioners and service users to discuss relevant contemporary nursing issues. The use of high profile speakers emphasised the value of the nursing profession and its contribution to health, linking the national agenda to local issues. In addition to the inherent learning from attending a conference for students, these events provided a safe environment to engage with the conference format, external nurses and senior leaders. For those students who arranged the conference, additional learning was gained through leading a local event and engaging with all elements of development.
From a theoretical perspective this approach might be seen as social learning, specifically as a way of including student nurses in a community of practice (Wenger 2000) of scholarly nurses, removing the mystery of scholarship and habituating them to the structure and processes of academic conferences. In working in collaboration with practice it can be argued that we are addressing the dynamic between theory and practice, reframing practice problems and exploring practical solutions, and are therefore demonstrating engaged scholarship. Building on the seminal work of Boyer (1990), Van de Ven (2007) describes engaged scholarship as a form of inquiry where complex problems are studied with and for practitioners and other stakeholders. We feel that the use of conferences as a learning strategy has the potential to facilitate broader more inclusive forms of scholarship and can be advocated.
Boyer E.L. (1990) Scholarship Reconsidered; Priorities of the professoriate. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of teaching / Jossey Bass, New York, United states of America
Van de Ven A.H. (2007) Engaged Scholarship: A Guide for Organizational and Social Research. Oxford University Press, Oxford, United Kingdom.
Wenger E. (2000) Communities of practice and social learning systems. Organisation 7:2:225-246
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes
EventRCN Education Forum conference and exhibition, Partners in practice 2015 - Nottingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 10 Mar 201511 Mar 2015


ConferenceRCN Education Forum conference and exhibition, Partners in practice 2015
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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