Using small tutorial groups within a blended Bachelor of Midwifery programme: Bridging the theory-practice divide

Mary Kensington, Lorna Davies, Rea Daellenbach, Ruth Deery, Julie Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In 2009 an innovative Bachelor of Midwifery programme was introduced using a blended delivery model to enable students to study and gain practice experience within their own communities. Students learn much of the theoretical content from their homes through access to online resources and virtual classrooms. In recognition for the potential of social isolation and to encourage cooperative learning between student and lecturer, a modified version of the Oxford Tutorial model was adopted. Students meet in small tutorial groups in their areas each week with a locally employed lecturer, and attend scheduled block study weeks on campus throughout the year.

Aim: To critically evaluate the introduction of this programme.

Method: A participatory action research methodology was used in which students’ views were gathered through anonymous questionnaires and focus group interviews. Ethics approval was gained through Ara Human Research Ethics Committee. The particular focus of this article is the students’ views in relation to the small group tutorials.

Findings: We found that small group tutorials are helpful in assisting students to manage feelings of isolation and the competing demands of home life and study. Students developed a community of inquiry which was pivotal to negotiating the gap between theory and clinical practice: what they are taught and what they see in midwifery settings.

Conclusion: The research found that the midwifery tutorial model is valued by all students and seen as the “hub” of the programme, effectively bridging the gap between theory and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-44
Number of pages6
JournalNew Zealand College of Midwives Journal
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2017


  • midwifery education
  • Oxford Tutorial
  • community of inquiry
  • blended learning


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