Facilitating learning in practice
Facilitating learning in practice

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Facilitating learning in practice

Week 2: Development of learning and teaching


In Week 1, you were given an overview of the Facilitating learning in practice course and introduced to mentorship and the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) (2008) Standards that support learning and assessment in practice. In this week you will look at three key theories (behaviourist, cognitive and humanistic), identify learning styles, and explore communities of practice. Watch this video, where Fiona Dobson introduces the week’s work:

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Welcome to Week 2. This week you’ll be guided through a range of principles and theories that can help you understand how as a mentor you can help others to become successful learners.

You’ll look at three key educational theories: behaviourism; cognitive theory and humanism.

The behaviourists, Pavlov and Skinner, hold to the view that positive reinforcement and praise can cement learning and shape behaviour. Taking the opportunity to praise your student and comment on what makes their performance particularly effective and also giving them opportunity to practice skills on several occasions represents an application of behaviourists technique applied to you as a mentor.

Humanistic theorists, Rogers and Maslow, ponder the viewpoint that every learner is an individual with their own particular needs. So finding out what interests your student and then working with this through active participation can help them to become a successful learner using humanistic theory.

The principles of cognitive theory used by Bruner and Ausubel start from the perspective of linking new learning with existing learning. And in doing this it helps the learner to better create an understanding of the bigger picture.

You’ll also be introduced to the terms andragogy and pedagogy. Andragogy, a learner driven approach and pedagogy, a teacher centred approach. Both play an important part in adult learning.

And you’ll finally look at preferred learning styles. You’ll have your own preferred approaches to learning and the students who you support have their own preferences too. So the more you can understand about their preferred approaches and use a wide range of learning styles the more likely you are to enable them to become effective and successful learners.

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Health care has a variety of contexts where learning takes place: it might be a busy children’s ward, a community mental health centre or a frantic accident and emergency centre. These settings are important learning environments, and you can adapt various teaching and learning theories and strategies to appropriately share information with individuals, who will learn in different ways. You need to draw on a range of skills and behaviours in order to meet the learner’s needs.

However, it is important for you to remember that there are many learning theories that help us to understand how people learn, how learning occurs and how the teacher can influence the individual’s learning. You will focus on three key learning theories that demonstrate how individuals learn:

  • behavioural theory (Skinner, 1938; Pavlov, 1927)
  • cognitive theory (Bruner, 1961; Ausubel, 1968)
  • humanistic theory (Rogers, 1983; Maslow, 1987).

You will have the opportunity to explore these learning theories and apply them to your practice. This will strengthen and capitalise on your learner’s strengths, and maximise their learning and development. You will compare pedagogy and andragogy in the development of adult learning, identify your learning style, and explore communities of practice as a feature of group learning where individuals share common beliefs and values and actively engage in learning together.

Mentorship programme

If you are completing this session as part of an NMC mentor preparation programme, the materials and activities relate to the following NMC domains:

  • Facilitation of learning
  • Context of practice
  • Creating an environment of learning.

You should have registered on KG006 Facilitating learning in practice: mentorship portfolio assessment, which requires you to build a body of evidence towards demonstrating achievement of NMC mentor competencies. You are advised to consider using the learning activities included in this week’s study in your portfolio as sources of evidence in demonstrating your achievement against the NMC competencies.

After this week, you should be able to:

  • increase your knowledge and understanding of learning and teaching theories, and their application to practice
  • compare and contrast andragogy and pedagogy in support of teaching and mentoring others
  • identify your learning style and consider how this can influence how you learn
  • recognise that learners may have a preferred style of learning
  • explore communities of practice.

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