"Learning to learn": Commencing midwifery students' experiences of self-determined learning in an undergraduate midwifery program

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      Self-determined learning aims to develop learners who can be creative, reflexive, think critically, be collaborative and build self-efficacy and capability using a non-linear approach to learning. Supporting deeper learning aligns with midwifery education as it develops critical thinking and reflective skills rather than simply acquiring skills and knowledge. A deeper understanding applies the midwifery student's learning to new situations and potentially challenging circumstances. Some learners find the transition to innovative and non-traditional learning activities and assessments challenging. Students can be de-motivated or reluctant to engage and embrace the opportunities available, potentially leading to disengagement, poor performance or attrition from the program. Investigating commencing midwifery students' conceptions and experiences of self-determined learning aimed to determine appropriate support to ease this transition.


      To explore commencing midwifery students' experiences and perceptions of self-determined learning.


      A qualitative descriptive design was used. In-depth online interviews involved ten midwifery student participants. Data was analysed using thematic analysis with an inductive approach.


      Making the transition described becoming familiar with the new way of learning, including beliefs about self-determined learning. Trusting the journey encompassed making adjustments and developing the confidence to be vulnerable in the learning process. Recognising the value incorporates the advantages and the importance of becoming a capable self-determined learner and how this aligns with becoming the midwife the student aspires to be.


      After a transition period, self-determined learning encourages midwifery students to take responsibility for their learning. Midwifery students valued a holistic, relationship-based support system that included accessible resources and a safe and respectful learning environment. Developing self-determined learning capacity and capability facilitates transformation in the student, supporting midwifery graduates who are confident, capable, and embrace the challenges of future professional midwifery practice.
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