Elements of the Hidden Curriculum in a Military Teaching and learning Environment
Van Rensburg, Gisela H.
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Session presented on Thursday, 21 July 2016 and Friday, 22 July 2016: Studies have revealed that most of what is learned, takes place not within the formal course curriculum, but by means of interactions and influences intrinsic to the teaching and learning environment. The hidden curriculum is about 'those parts of the environment that influence the experience of students but that are either not accounted for or cannot be accounted for in curriculum planning' (Van Veen et al, 2012). Students at the South African Military Health Service (SAMHS) Nursing College undergo consecutive basic military training and officer's training over a period of one year prior to commencing with their nursing training and most of the nursing training thereafter also takes place within a military environment. Due to the uniqueness of the military environment, the professional socialisation of student nurses at the SAMHS Nursing College is compounded by simultaneous military socialisation within a teaching and learning environment inundated with military culture. Military nurse educators offer students a range of experiences to progress their development towards professional nurses. Most of these are planned and are part of the overall course curriculum, but given the unique teaching and learning environment in which these students find themselves, it is difficult to ascertain whether desirable professional attributes are nourished by the military nursing education environment or if its development is inhibited by this same environment. The question therefore arises as to whether it is likely that implicit factors in the military organisational structure, culture and learning environment may influence the professional socialisation of these students. The purpose of this presentation is to highlight the elements of a hidden curriculum within a military teaching and learning environment, over and above the formal and informal curricula and to explore these elements as well as its potential influence on the professional socialisation of student nurses. The findings will form part of a model that will sensitise nurse educators and professional nurses regarding the existence of a hidden curriculum, how to identify its elements and how to utilise it in order to steer the professional socialisation of student nurses in a positive direction. Methods: A constructivist grounded theory study was conducted to explore the nature of the hidden curriculum within a military teaching and learning environment. Data were collected by means of focus groups held with students as well as nurse educators of the SAMHS Nursing College. Findings revealed the influences and factors that do not form part of the formal curriculum and proved to be significant in terms of the professional socialisation of student nurses. Results: Elements identified were indicated as having a positive influence on the professional development of students for example the effect of military discipline. Mostly however, were aspects that were regarded as having a negative effect such as the influence of military indoctrination on the development of autonomy and assertiveness. Conclusion: The hidden curriculum will always be a part of the complexity of health professional education. To curb the potential negative influence of the hidden curriculum, nurse educators firstly need to be made aware of the hidden curriculum and make it overt, reflect on their own teaching practice to see what areas of the hidden curriculum may be involved, highlight what may constitute the hidden curriculum, both negative and positive to students (Harvey & Radomski, 2013).