Signature Pedagogies versus Trauma Informed Approaches: Thematic Analysis of Graduate Students’ Reflections

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The COVID-19 pandemic is evidenced as a traumatic event, impacting college students preparing for healthcare careers. Trauma-informed pedagogical evidence-based recommendations include clear instruction, faculty availability, and open acknowledgment of challenges. This study explored trauma-informed mechanisms embedded in a fully online health sciences course at a public New Jersey university, given during COVID-19 pandemic in spring, 2021, to ascertain student perceptions of mechanisms and sense of belonging within the online classroom environment. Thirty-four (n = 34) Master’s and Doctoral graduate students were enrolled in this course, which met for 3 hours weekly, for a 15 week semester. Qualitative data were collected from students, including 42 reflective posts per student (for a total of 1,428 reflections) and anecdotal observations at semester’s end. Via qualitative reflexive thematic analysis, the following four themes emerged: (1) Recognizing the Moment, (2) Creating Empathic Connections, (3) Appreciating Availability/Flexibility, and (4) Clarity of Instruction. These themes are discussed, and implications for an actionable model for signature pedagogies embedded in trauma-informed care in graduate health science education are reviewed.

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Pedagogy in Health Promotion

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