Authors: Paul Linsley, Steve Wilkinson
There are few, if any studies that explore the use of conversational dyads as part of the reflective practice. The following paper will look at the use of conversational dyads as part of the process of reflection and takes the form of an evaluation study. The authors propose a link between dyadic communication and situated learning. These listening structures provide a means of exploring untapped and often ‘taken-forgranted’ elements of clinical practice through conversation and storytelling. The term dyad means having two parts. A conversational dyad then is a conversation between two people. For the purposes of this study, students were broken into small groups of four. Each dyad (consisting of two students) was ‘invited’ to ‘witness’ the others conversation. Witnessed conversations are a common practice in counselor training and are used to elicit feedback and understanding (Morgan 2002). Participants A & B would first have the conversation and then C & D would have a conversation based on the witnessed conversation A & B had had. A & B would have a further conversation based on what C & D had discussed and so it would go on. In this way a ‘framework of participation’ is formed (Goffman 1972:63). The strength is in the witnessing. Each new conversation promotes further discussion and new understanding. The mere presence of dyadic communication would seem to be enough to prompt the sharing of experiences and learning that benefit both the speaker and those listening to the conversation. The whole process is based on the premise that likeminded people naturally want to share their experiences with each other. Sessions were organized on a weekly basis over a period of six weeks with two cohorts of second year mental health nursing degree students (n = 64). Each session lasted an hour and formed part of the teaching experience of a taught module. The sessions helped students to recognize the value of sharing experiences of clinical practice, as well as to aspire to collaborative, supportive and facilitative ways of working.