Conceptualising differentiated forms of knowledge : the Medical (MBChB) curriculum of the University of Cape Town

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Two major features characterise the change to the Medical curriculum at the University of Cape Town, which occurred in 2002, namely: a traditional didactic approach to teaching was replaced by a problem-based learning programme, and the traditional biomedical model was replaced by a bio-psychosocial model, unofficially referred to as a bio-psychosocial / spiritual model by the staff. The change to the curriculum necessitated a lengthy process of planning and design, implementation, and continuous review. Crucial to this on-going process of curriculum review is a better understanding of how disciplinary knowledge is recontextualised into educational knowledge. This study is an investigation into the concepts of differentiated forms of knowledge that inform the Medical (MBChB) curriculum of the University of Cape Town (UCT). The object of this research project is to classify, describe and compare the forms of knowledge present in two selected subject areas, each made up of specific specialities (disciplines), within courses in Years 2 and 3 that form a major portion of the programme. Using the concepts of - hard and - soft‖ sciences (Natural Sciences versus the Humanities), two subjects were identified that fell into different quadrants of Biglan's classification of subjects (Biglan, 1973a,b). The two subjects chosen were Chemical Pathology and Culture, Psyche and Illness. Data were collected from course documentation, interviews with members of staff, and examples of assessments. These data were then analysed using Maton's legitimation code theory, which identifies four legitimation codes based on the Epistemic Relation (ER) and the Social Relation (SR), namely a Knowledge Code, a Knower Code, a Relativist Code, and an Élite Code. These four categories were used to determine what is valued in the two subjects, using the relative strength or weakness of each of ER, SR, classification and framing.

Includes bibliographical references (p. 97-101).