Using video-reflexive ethnography to understand complexity and change practice

Rola Ajjawi*, Joanne Hilder, Christy Noble, Andrew Teodorczuk, Stephen Billett

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
53 Downloads (Pure)


Context: A range of research methods have been used to understand effective workplace learning in the health professions. The impact of findings from this research usually requires knowledge translation activities in the form of faculty development initiatives, such as supervisor workshops. Far rarer, but with greater potential, are research approaches that concurrently seek to understand and change practice through empowering clinicians to refine aspects of their practice. 

Methods: In this methodological article, we describe video-reflexive ethnography (VRE), a collaborative visual research approach that seeks to capture, illuminate and optimise in situ work and education practices. Video-reflexive ethnography usually has three phases: (a) initial familiarisation with practice through field observations; (b) video-recording of practice, and (c) reflexive sessions about the edited footage with participants and researchers. Drawing on our own experiences as researchers using VRE, we discuss four key principles of VRE: (a) exnovation; (b) collaboration; (c) reflexivity, and (d) care. 

Discussion: Although VRE has been used to illuminate and understand health professionals education, its potential for changing clinical education practices has yet to be realised. Video-reflexive ethnography enables observation of the social and relational interactions in health care practice and allows individual (and group) perspectives to be articulated and analysed. The approach can prompt fresh perspectives and insights into health care education and practice for researchers and clinicians through shared deliberations about how practice might be reimagined and enacted.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)908-914
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Education
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020
Externally publishedYes


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