Facilitating learning in practice
Facilitating learning in practice

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Facilitating learning in practice

Week 7: Supporting the failing student


In Week 6, you looked specifically at the processes of assessment and how to deliver constructive feedback in the practice setting. You also explored various methods of assessment and considered feedback strategies. The aim of this week is to discuss the strategies and skills that will help you to identify the student who is either failing or has failed, and provide the appropriate opportunities and support for them to meet the required competencies in order to successfully complete their placement.

Most students of nursing achieve their required competencies in practice. However, there are a few whose performance may be considered weak and who experience difficulty in meeting the required standards. It will be necessary to provide extra support and supervision for these students. Duffy’s (2003) study is a significant piece of research that has contributed to the literature on reasons why mentors lack confidence in failing students, with more recent research replicating many of Duffy’s original findings. For example, a later study by Gainsbury (2010) found that a quarter of interviewees felt unconfident in managing students’ performance. Further evidence (Brown et al., 2012; Heaslip and Scammell, 2012) suggests that mentors find this aspect of their role most challenging and are reluctant to fail students when they do not perform as expected. This may occur because the student may display behaviours that can be hard to identify (Duffy, 2004; Skingley et al., 2007; Black et al., 2014). In this context, as a mentor you need to work closely with students to provide support or opportunities as required.

Watch Fiona introduce Week 7:

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Welcome back. During Week 7 you’ll be introduced to a range of strategies and to develop knowledge and skills all designed to help you recognise a student who is failing to progress or the student who needs support because they failed a practice placement.

Most students do achieve their competencies in practice but there are a few who will need additional support and guidance in order to succeed.

If despite putting in additional support and guidance for your student they still fail to reach the required standard then you will need to fail the student’s practice experience.

When you’re giving feedback to the student who is failing focus on a positive area of progress first and then move on to look at the areas that require further development and improvement.

Creating an action plan at this stage can provide a useful source of reference for highlighting the areas of difficulty and giving a framework that you can work together from as you move forward.

Action plans provide a useful source of evidencing support and also set out for the student how they can achieve their competencies.

Enjoy this penultimate week of the course and don’t forget the end-of-week quiz. It’s your last chance to practice before the badged quiz in Week 8.

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Mentorship programme

If you are completing this session as part of a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) mentor preparation programme, the materials and activities relate to the following NMC domains:

  • Establish effective working relationships
  • Facilitating of learning
  • Assessment and accountability
  • Evaluation of learning.

You should have registered, or be planning to register, on KG006 Facilitating learning in practice: mentorship portfolio assessment, which requires you to build a portfolio via a body of evidence that demonstrates 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:

  • consider the effectiveness of both formative and summative assessment strategies used to assess the outcome of learning
  • understand the importance of effective feedback to student learning and development
  • identify and evaluate the sources of support and feedback for facilitating learning in practice
  • reflect on next steps if this learning is part of planned activities to meet the needs of professional regulatory and statutory body requirements for supporting learners in practice.

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