Faculty Scholarship and Research

Interprofessional Communities of Practice: Fostering Resilience in Post-Secondary Students

Student resilience impacts student success (Beauvais, A.M. et al., 2014, Hartley, M.T., 2011, Maddi, S. R. et al., 2009). The purpose of this study was to examine students' self-ratings of resilience at the beginning and at the end of the academic year (September to April) and to compare this to their participation in interprofessional communities of practice. Students from a variety of health care programs were chosen to participate in the study. All first year students from three health care diploma programs (Practical Nursing, Pharmacy Technician, and Occupational/Physical Therapist Assistant) were invited to participate in community of practice sessions throughout the academic year to discuss strategies to improve resilience and coping as they transitioned into the college setting and student role.

Summary and conclusions

  • Students identified four main areas that foster resilience: support, priorities, coping skills, and perspective.
  • Communities of practice can help students establish and utilize support networks.
  • Support networks consisting of students from different health sciences programs were identified as being especially helpful, although these interprofessional networks occurred within interprofessional classes rather than within scheduled community of practice sessions.
  • The students who seek out CoP sessions appear to be those who have higher resilience, and these students show an increase in resilience after attending the sessions.
  • Students benefit from the support of others to whom they can relate.

Areas for further development

  • Ongoing opportunities for interprofessional communities of practice may be helpful for students.
  • Students may not attend support sessions outside of class time. How can students be connected even more deeply in interprofessional classes?
  • Peer support may be the most helpful. Perhaps students could be trained to organize and facilitate community of practice sessions.
  • How can new students be connected with other new students and with second-year students for support?
  • How can we reach out to students who are not connected?
  • Are there other ways to get mixed groups of students together - e.g. joint student society?
  • Is there a role for interprofessional communities of practice in student orientation?

Learn more about this project.

Candi Raudebaugh, BSc.OT, MSc.OT
School of Health Sciences - Occupational and Physical Therapist Assistant Chairperson
Submitted March 2019


Exploring Assessment Practices in Higher Education: A Focus on Learning-Oriented Assessment.

Assessment is a fundamental element in successful teaching and learning.  However, few research studies have examined the assessment practices implemented by faculty in higher education.  It is believed that testing has become the primary method of assessment, which could adversely impact student learning.  The purpose of this descriptive quantitative study was to examine the use of learning-oriented assessment (LOA) criteria, the occurrence and diversity of assessment practices, and determine if significant differences existed in assessment techniques by program (discipline), class size, and teachers’ years of experience.  A web-based survey used a questionnaire to gather information from a sample of educators in postsecondary education.  Questions for this survey were based on the three criteria of LOA.  Learning-oriented assessment is a concept that integrates learning tasks, self- and peer assessment, and useful feedback to optimize student learning.  The findings of this research illustrated that academics used written response examinations more than other formats.  In addition, educators primarily implemented written papers, individual projects, and group projects as authentic assessment task.  The Kruskal-Wallis H test showed statistically significant differences between a teacher’s discipline and the use of examination formats and alternative practices.  Education faculty implemented examinations less frequently than other programs.  Teachers of Education and Nursing used alternative methods more extensively than other disciplines.  Statistically significant differences were also found between individual assessment methods and programs.  Regarding class size, statistically significant results revealed that more alternative assessment practices occurred when the class size was smaller.  Years of experience of the academics were not a major influence on the use of assessment methods.  Self- and peer assessment were not a common practice by instructors.  Results linked to feedback revealed that academics perceived feedback on assignments as an important part of instruction.  However, there were differences of opinion on whether or not students make use of the feedback.  Recommendations included the need for professional development for teachers on the various authentic assessment methods and ways to engage students in assignment feedback.  Future research using a qualitative design should be conducted because it would enable a researcher to the obtain reasons why assessment problems exist.

Pat Rawlusyk, Ph.D. in Education, BPE, MA
School of Health Sciences - Kinesiology Faculty
Submitted June 2016


Health and Health Promoting Behaviors of Urban and Rural Primary Caregivers of Children with Disabilities.

Purpose was to describe and compare the health status, health promoting behaviors, and facilitators and barriers to health promoting behaviors of caregivers living in Central Alberta. A sequential explanatory mixed methods design was used. Phase 1 was a quantitative study using mailed surveys and Phase 2 was a qualitative study using telephone interviews to assess facilitators and barriers to health promoting behaviors. Eighty-nine urban and 105 rural primary caregivers of children with disabilities responded to the survey. Ten urban and ten rural caregivers participated in the telephone interviews. Quantitative findings revealed many similarities and few differences between the urban and rural samples. Most caregivers reported their health as good to excellent; however, incidences of obesity, stress, and depression were higher than national and provincial averages. More urban than rural caregivers had given up paid employment; rural caregivers traveled further to access their physicians and were more likely to be overweight or obese. The most common facilitator of health promoting behaviors was the need for caregivers to stay healthy so that they could continue to meet the long-term care needs of their child. The most common barrier was lack of time due to the numerous appointments, therapies, programs, and care needs of their children with disabilities.  The availability of health promoting services and programs was a facilitator unique to urban caregivers and a barrier unique to some rural caregivers.

Brenda Query  R.N., B.S.c.N., M.N.
School of Health Sciences - Bachelor of Science in Nursing Faculty
Submitted June 2015


Additional research summaries will be included as they are submitted.