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The Shadow Learning Landscape of paramedic student experiences: A Complexity Sensitized Exploration of the Learning-Technology-Spaces Intersection

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Vlad Chiriac
Publication date2022
Number of pages335
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This thesis explores how paramedic students’ experiences are influenced by complex interplays of physical spaces, technologies and learning practices. In doing so, it highlights a shadow learning landscape, student-crafted in parallel with, but not endorsed by, institutional offerings. Prior scholarship highlights healthcare student experiences regarding educational spaces, and technology usage within those spaces. That scholarship emphasizes space as the background and technology as the mediator of customized student experiences, to some extent acknowledges spatial (in)adequacies, and (rarely) presents detail regarding how students shape their own experiences in spaces. I argue that the literature largely underemphasizes the importance of materiality in student experiences with technology in spaces.

My thesis presents a case study in paramedic education using a theoretical framework sensitized by complexity thinking – a branch of sociomaterialism. I focus on the concepts of diversity, redundancy, decentralized control, neighbour interactions, enabling constraints and emergence. The first five concepts guide analysis of data generated from interviews-to-the-double, drawings and screen-captures. Emergence guides subsequent analytical work uncovering higher-level themes that draw the initial concepts together.

My findings describe wide ranging rules, interactions, matters of control, functions and compensatory mechanisms through which students’ experiences are influenced and regulated by spaces and technology. Examples of this shadow learning landscape include impromptu transformations of ambulance patient care spaces into academic study spaces during idle times.

My contribution to knowledge is threefold. I introduce a shadow learning landscape model, depicting student experiences as complex adaptive learning-technology-space interconnections, student co-created, which could indicate when possible institutional intervention in these experiences is needed. I present new facets of student experiences – e.g., using uniforms to co-create calm in chaotic patient care spaces. I supplement knowledge already described in literature with richer detail regarding how students shape their own experiences.