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Dawn Goodwin supervises 2 postgraduate research students. If these students have produced research profiles, these are listed below:

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Dr Dawn Goodwin

Senior Lecturer

Dawn Goodwin

Lancaster University

Furness Building



Tel: +44 1524 592756

Research overview

My research interests have focused on cultures of health care work and issues of learning, knowledge and practice.  These interests have manifested themselves in previous studies as a focus on decision making and accountability, patient safety and critical incident analysis, constructions of evidence and expertise, diagnostic work and embodied knowledge, collaborative work in critical care, and human-machine relations in medical work. Theoretically, these interests are informed by science and technology studies, ethnomethodology, workplace studies and medical sociology.  Methodologically, my studies have been largely ethnographic but I have also used interviews, focus groups and documentary analysis.

PhD supervision

I would be interested in supervising social science (especially ethnographic) studies of healthcare work, and around issues of knowledge, evidence and practice.

Current Research

Connections of workplace cultures, patient safety and dignity. ESRC funding sought.

Learning about bodies: Intersections of technology, morality and pedagogy. Source of funding: Faculty of Health and Medicine.

Evidence and expertise: A manifesto for hybrid practices. A project in memory of Tracy Dryden. Source of funding: Lancaster University Friends Programme.

Research Interests

Prospective projects: I am pursuing my interests in learning, knowledge and practice in a developing research collaboration and proposal around high fidelity simulation in medical education.  I am interested in the idea that cultures of clinical practice are being simulated and I would like to explore the implications this holds for patient safety.  Repeatedly, official inquiries point to the fundamental role culture plays in patient safety incidents and I am interested in how high fidelity simulation might address this - inadvertently or consciously.  Methodologically, this is likely to require close analysis of the video recordings.

Current projects: In 'learning about bodies', with colleagues Dr Laura Machin and Dr Adam Taylor, we held focus groups with medical students to explore how students learn about anatomy in the absence of dissection – a method that has traditionally been the cornerstone of anatomy learning.  Here, my interests in learning, knowledge and practice, have led me to explore the way that issues of learning anatomy through the observation of post-mortem examinations are entangled with discourses of dignity and respect for the dead.

Previous projects: In ‘Building networks of accountability: connecting humans, machines and devices’ (funded jointly by Economic and Social Research Council/Medical Research Council), I pursued questions around the relationship between decision making and accountability.  Codes of professional conduct and organisational policies tend to tether accountability to specific human actors and discrete actions.  However, some of the elements that contribute to shaping decisions go unrecognised in such formal descriptions of clinical practice - particularly patients, machines and medical devices - which causes practitioners difficulty when legitimating and accounting for care.  Therefore, a tension exists in which certain practitioners are held accountable for decisions and actions that are authored by many participants, both human and non-human, and distributed both spatially and temporally, and consequently, over which they may only have limited control.

Current Teaching

My teaching responsibilities in the medical degree programme include:

Problem Based Learning I am a PBL tutor for first year medical students and convene a 'Study Skills for PBL' workshop.  I am also Director of the four year PBL programme.

Lectures and Workshops I give lectures on social science aspects of 'Health, Culture and Society' to first and second year medical students.  For third year medical students, I convene two workshops: 'Cultures of Health and Medical Practice' and 'Critical Review of Qualitative Research'.

Special Study Modules I convene three SSMs: 'Learning About Bodies' for first year medical students, 'Medicine and the Media' for second year students, and a social science focused, student-led SSM for third year students.

Ethical Case Analysis I am one of the markers for this piece of third year course work.

Additional Information

Additional Information – Teaching  

In my capacity as Director of PBL, I am heavily involved in the development of a new PBL curriculum for the medical degree programme.  At an organisational level, I am leading the working party that is responsible for revising the PBL syllabus.  This entails coordinating the interdisciplinary input for medical sciences, public health and epidemiology, social and behavioural sciences, ethics and issues of professional practice, then guiding the construction of new scenarios, and ensuring the compilation of a suitable set of associated learning resources.  In terms of my own area of the curriculum, I am responsible for revising and developing the social science component. Finally, beyond development of the PBL syllabus, I am also introducing some innovation in the process of PBL.  I have begun to implement a move away from scenario-based PBL and towards patient-based PBL in the later years of study (corresponding with increasing emphasis on clinical practice).

In line with the PBL curricular approach, I have, with colleagues, developed a new form of assessment for social and behavioural sciences as well as the ethical and professional aspects of the course.  In ‘scenario-based assessment’, ethical, legal, psychological and social science topics are enfolded and illustrated. Students are expected to identify the issues exemplified and respond to open questions that probe the depth of their knowledge.  This form of assessment has the advantage over the traditional short answer format as it allows for assessment of application of knowledge rather than recall.


Additional Information – Research

My PhD supervision has been largely focused around ethnographic studies of health care practice in settings such as accident and emergency, radiology, mental health care, palliative medicine and maternity services.  Theoretically, these studies have drawn primarily on science and technology studies but also on organisational studies, ethnomethodology, feminist technoscience, postcolonial studies, medical sociology and workplace studies.

Current students include:

Tania Pastrana,‘Knowing (in) Palliative Medicine: An ethnographic analysis about construction and performativity of knowledge in palliative medicine’

Katie Willocks, ‘An exploratory investigation into the NHS Skill Mix agenda:  Negotiated role boundaries in maternity services’


My research interests and collaborations have resulted in the following academic events:

Organisers: Dawn Goodwin, Maggie Mort and Lucy Suchman

Public Lecture and workshop with Jean Lave, Professor Emeritus, University of California at Berkeley

Workshop: Engaging with Apprenticeship in Critical Ethnographic Practice

23-24th November, 2011, Lancaster University


Organisers: Dawn Goodwin and Maggie Mort

Re-imagining Supervision: Reflections on experience, theory and policy

An interdisciplinary workshop in memory of Tracy Dryden

15th June, 2011, Lancaster University.

Sponsored by Centre for Science Studies and School of Health and Medicine


Organisers: Dawn Goodwin and Monika Buscher

Workshop: Ethnographies of diagnostic work

17-18th April, 2007, Lancaster University

Sponsored by Department of Sociology, Centre for Science Studies, Institute for Health Research, Department of Medicine, Palcom

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