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Intersubjectivity or the ability to understand and work with others is essential in healthcare. Intersubjective processes include workplace relationships where clinicians seek to make sense of and identify stakeholders’ interests. Students may develop intersubjectivity through group work, structured around classroom activities. However, less well established is how the types of skills required for the temporary, fleeting and partial everyday healthcare collaborations amongst nurses, patients, families, doctors and allied health professionals are developed. The study discussed here aimed to evaluate the feasibility of, and learning experienced by students who participated in, learning circles conducted in health workplaces.

A mixed methods approach was used with a convenience sample of nursing students undertaking clinical placement at one tertiary hospital. The learning circle is a pedagogic activity for developing students’ knowledge of nursing through checking and comparing experiences, feelings and conceptual understanding. It may prove to be an educational pedagogy that enhances student intersubjectivity and practice. The structured learning circle activity focused on a shared topic derived from students’ own clinical cases, which were drawn in the form of a concept map. Data were collected from students via individual concept maps, written feedback on their learning in relation to the learning circle and follow-up telephone interviews. Common themes were developed from the multiple data sources.

We found that the students [n = 37] valued the learning circle activity generally, commenting on the value of hearing others’ perspectives and experiences and securing peer feedback on their own ideas. The learning circle was feasible in terms of student availability and interest, but the challenge of securing space in the hospital for the 1-hour sessions was significant and threatens sustainability. A concept mapping exercise, used as a data collection instrument, emerged as an important feature of the activity, with students commenting on how drawing the map helped them to deconstruct the clinical situation and map their thoughts on paper.

The student-led learning circle activity provided students with an opportunity to develop intersubjective skills, with the socio-political pattern of knowing produced following these discussions. How concept maps can be used with other practical activities in undergraduate education, such as simulation, should be explored.

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Correspondence to Laurie Grealish .

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Grealish, L. et al. (2019). Using Learning Circles to Develop Intersubjectivity. In: Billett, S., Newton, J., Rogers, G., Noble, C. (eds) Augmenting Health and Social Care Students’ Clinical Learning Experiences. Professional and Practice-based Learning, vol 25. Springer, Cham.

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