The undergraduate research project as co-creation: can we describe new forms of learning gain?
Healthcare education requires of students, practitioners and academics an unwavering commitment to improving the lives of others, while critically and remorselessly examining the complicated and imperfect conditions in which our work takes place. Coming to terms with the implications of such a commitment is a gradual process, aided by the kinds of insights provoked by involvement in research. The undergraduate research project has the potential to begin a lifelong relationship with learning that considers how to co-create healthcare knowledge, realise and negotiate power relationships and foster participatory cultures. As a valued and ubiquitous academic activity, undergraduate research also connects students with communities of practice and promotes interesting, more contemporary forms of learning gain. Yet, as highly-regulated health programmes often have little in terms of flexibility, emphasising employability and efficiency over regeneration, the case for change has to be persuasive. I suggest that describing undergraduate research in terms of learning gain, in particular the co-creation that is part of collaborative work, underlines its importance to the future of healthcare and offers an opportunity for renewal in one aspect of professional health education.
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