Higher Education

, Volume 64, Issue 5, pp 609–626 | Cite as

Student experiences of engaged enquiry in pharmacy education: digital natives or something else?

  • Robert A. Ellis
  • Ana-Maria Bliuc
  • Peter Goodyear


This article reports on research into the student experience of enquiry in two tasks in a university pharmacy course. Students were required to investigate through a field trip how a community pharmacy operated to meet customer needs and the requirements of the Health System in which it operated. Students were also required to investigate interactions and other properties of particular medicines through an online research task. This study looked at the student experience of enquiry in these contexts and the implications of the findings of that investigation for the debate about how digital literacy might relate to experiences of effective enquiry. The study presents evidence that suggests aspects such as variation in approaches to enquiry are an indicator of the extent of student success rather than the technologies ‘per se’. Analysis of the student population data, interviews and open-ended comments in surveys identified qualitatively different experiences of enquiry in both the community pharmacy context and the online investigation. The outcomes suggest that the way students approach and conceive of enquiry is closely related to the quality of their outcomes, and that this appears to be a more significant factor in the nature of effective enquiry than their classification as digital natives as a result of their age.


Enquiry Learning Approaches Conceptions Digital natives Technology 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert A. Ellis
    • 1
  • Ana-Maria Bliuc
    • 2
  • Peter Goodyear
    • 3
  1. 1.Institute of Teaching and LearningUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.School of Political and Social InquiryMonash UniversityVictoriaAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of Education and Social WorkUniversity of SyndneySydneyAustralia

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