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Potential applications for Autoethnography

Hayes, C., & Fulton, J. A. (2015). Autoethnography as a method of facilitating critical reflexivity for professional doctorate students. Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, 8, 1-15.

This paper describes a research approach called autoethnography and its potential application within professional doctorates when they include work based learning/practice portfolios as part of the examination process. The authors argue that such programmes of study include an expectation that students critically reflect upon the process of practice development. They make the case for autoethnography as offering one possible framework for capturing this process. They infer that it places the student at the centre of the project leading to a transparent, reflexive account of the experience of practice development that potentially applies greater methodological rigour than an anecdotal account or timeline of key project milestones would do.

I know very little about professional doctorates, however the description of how autoethnography might lead to a transparent, reflexive process for sharing an understanding of a process resonates with my own experience of using the method. I have previously tried to explain my approach to a specific nursing process called psychiatric liaison.  By writing about it within an auto ethnographic framework, it meant I included a number of aspects to my personal experience that may otherwise have been missed. I think that the description of the approach to psychiatric liaison that I took made far more sense when the reader understood more about what underpinned my approach. I wonder if it is this deeper understanding of where the student was coming from when engaged in practice development that may be what autoethnography can offer to Prof Doc students.

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