Practical learning: achieving excellence in the human services

January 23-25 2008 Edinburgh International Conference Centre

Learning the language of multidisciplinary practice

Keywords: discourse, communities of practice, multidisciplinary practice, language, learning

Authors: Dr Stephen Loftus (Charles Sturt University), Professor Joy Higgs (Charles Sturt University)

This research explored the ways in which various aspects of language are used by health professionals, and how these are modified in multidisciplinary practice. It was found that professional practice involves the coordination and mastery of a range of language skills, such as the ability to use the dominant metaphors and narrative forms of a profession. These skills have to be deployed in ways that other members of the profession find intelligible, legitimate, persuasive and carrying the moral authority for subsequent action. In multidisciplinary practice these skills must be modified in subtle ways so that health professionals from other communities of practice can accept each others' findings and coordinate complex management plans.

The intended audience consists of practitioners, researchers and educators. Language use is foundational to professional practice. Understanding the special ways in which language is used in a professional context can improve our understanding of practice itself. Previous research has focused on particular aspects of language use, such as narrative or rhetoric. We argue that a coordinated approach to the different aspects of language use can deepen our understanding of how practice is constituted.

Date: Thursday 24 January 2008, 12.00-12.30

Venue: Carrick Two

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Organised by the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services in association with PEPE (Practical Experiences in Professional Education).