Harnessing Complexity Science for Interprofessional Education Development: A Case Study

Lynda Weaver, Angus McMurtry, James Conklin, Susan Brajtman, Pippa Hall


Background: Developing learning activities for interprofessional education (IPE) with a group of stakeholders often involves negotiation, collectivity, creativity, innovation, and unpredictable results. Theoretical approaches that can explain and support such emergent processes are needed. This case study explored the applicability of complexity science to explain the experiences of committee members as they developed learning experiences for an IPE placement in a non-acute care hospital.

Methods and Findings: Data from a focus group with project steering committee members were re-analyzed through the lens of complexity science—specifically, three key principles of complex systems and five conditions for nurturing collective learning. Quotes were compared against each of these principles and conditions and, if there was a sufficient match, categorized accordingly into themes. These general themes were then sorted into clusters of sub-themes.

Conclusions: Complexity science provides a useful framework for understanding the open-ended, unpredictable, and innovative IPE development process analyzed in this article. It also offers helpful practical guidelines for future learning activity and curriculum development.


Learning community

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22230/jripe.2011v2n1a48