The Understandings of Credentialed Diabetes Educators and Patients about Teaching and Learning in Diabetes Education

Author: Pauline Hill

Hill, Pauline, 2017 The Understandings of Credentialed Diabetes Educators and Patients about Teaching and Learning in Diabetes Education, Flinders University, School of Education

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Diabetes is the world’s fastest growing chronic disease (International Diabetes Federation [IDF], 2013). If untreated or poorly managed diabetes leads to life-threatening complications, early mortality and significant costs to the individual and the health care budget.

Type 2 diabetes can be treated with a combination of diet, exercise, tablets and/or insulin. Education about each of these treatment components is critical for the person with diabetes to enable them to learn how to self-manage their condition to achieve normal blood glucose levels and reduce complications. The outcome of diabetes education is of substantial importance, both in immediate diabetes management by patients and to reduce demands onr the wider health care system.

The literature on diabetes focuses on clinical management whilst noting that diabetes education is important and beneficial. Whilst there is a large body of education literature, there is limited literature about teaching and learning in diabetes education with minimal detail about how diabetes education should be designed to generate effective learning in patients.

Educational research literature provides evidence that when learners use effective learning strategies they build powerful knowledge and can solve more problems in the area of their study. So if patients experience effective teaching it is expected that their learning about the management of their diabetes will be effective.

This doctoral study is a qualitative investigation into the knowledge and understandings held by diabetes educators and patients about teaching, learning and of their roles in diabetes education.

Transcripts were coded using three different frameworks developed from research literature on teacher knowledge, on learning processes and on the evaluation of the quality of knowledge about teaching and learning.

The analysis identified that patients understand they need to be active learners, ask questions, and can identify aspects of how they prefer to learn.

The teacher knowledge classification analysis identified that the credentialed diabetes educators (CDEs) have knowledge about diabetes clinical management (content), general pedagogical knowledge (GPK) and knowledge of learning. Although the CDEs have this knowledge, there is concern about the low level of pedagogical content knowledge (PCK)—knowledge that can be used by the educator—to guide the new patient through the learning of quite complex information.

The CDE’s knowledge about teaching and learning was limited in both detail and quality thus reducing the prospect of the CDE generating effective solutions to teaching or learning problems that emerge during an education session. The limited theoretical range of knowledge and understandings about teaching and learning held by the CDEs also reduced the likelihood of patients developing strong, effective knowledge for self-management.

This absence of quality knowledge about teaching and learning is not dissimilar to the situation of educators in other fields. However, in diabetes education, it is critical because it impacts on the health and lifestyle of millions of people with diabetes around the world and ultimately on health budgets.

Keywords: Diabetes Education, Teaching, Learning, Credentialed Diabetes Educators

Subject: Education thesis, Health Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2017
School: School of Education
Supervisor: Professor Mike Lawson