Facilitating learning in practice
Facilitating learning in practice

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Facilitating learning in practice

2 Feedback

Giving regular, constructive feedback ensures that others have the opportunity to improve their performance in their workplace. The next activity presents a case study that gives you the opportunity to reflect on why feedback is essential for a student of nursing who is failing.

Activity 2 Case study: Mary

Allow 20 minutes

Read the case study below.

Mary is a second year nursing student who works in an acute ward in a NHS Foundation Trust. She has been on placement for the past four weeks and her mentor has noticed her increasing lack of interest and motivation when engaging with service users. Mary is often late for her shifts, requires a lot of support when she is on duty to complete nursing assessments effectively and carry out particular procedures and observations. She is very unsure of herself and has no confidence. At times the mentor feels she has to watch her all the time.

Now respond to the following:

  • Give reasons why you think the mentor left it so late to provide feedback to Mary regarding her performance.
  • What feedback would you give Mary?
  • Identify what support and opportunities you would offer Mary.
  • Suggest what practical advice the mentor needs?


Mentors sometimes leave it too late to inform the student that there is a problem (Webb and Shakespeare, 2008). Jervis and Tilki (2011) suggest that it is wrong to inform the student that they are failing when they do not have enough time to achieve what is required. The reason this occurs is because the mentor finds it difficult to fail a student, as they worry about the consequences that failure might bring. If feedback is required, then reflect on whether you want to give written or verbal feedback. It is important to avoid delaying feedback, to allow sufficient time for students to reflect on the feedback received and for the student to change their behaviour. Feedback should always lift out the positives, as well as being honest and objective. You always need to give the student time to respond to what you have shared.

Heaslip and Scammell (2011) provide advice and basic principles for mentors giving feedback to students:

  • identify areas that need developing or improved
  • arrange for all meetings with students to be held in a private area
  • ensure that students have prior notification of the meeting
  • avoid interruptions such as phone calls
  • ensure feedback is immediate and not at the end of the placement.

Mentorship programme

If you are studying this provision as part of an NMC mentor preparation programme, your reflection on the outcome of this activity could be included as a source of evidence in your KG006 portfolio.

You focus next on action planning with students who are experiencing problems. It is a useful strategy to adopt because it considers the difficulties that the students may be facing and together you can work towards mutually agreed goals.

Activity 3 Action plan

Allow 20 minutes

Read Mary’s case study again. Draw up an action plan that shows Mary’s areas for development, the actions required and support needed for improvement. Identify target dates and evidence needed for achievement. Your action plan may look like the example in Table 1.

Table 1 Example action plan

Areas for development Action needed by student Support needed Target dates Evidence needed achievement
Being late for work Explain reasons for lateness and possible solutions Explore workplace options for implementing solutions Set reasonable target dates depending on the situation Arriving at work at the agreed time

Mentor signature

Student signature




It is important in any action plan to include the educational provider in this discussion. Walsh (2014) provides some further guidelines for your action plan:

  • identify the learning outcomes/competencies that have not been met
  • identify the learning activities needed to reach the required targets
  • identify what support is needed
  • identify timescales and review dates
  • specify what evidence of achievement is required
  • document and sign and each take a copy.

The action plan must be regularly reviewed at specified and agreed dates. Action plans are useful tools for documenting evidence of support because they highlight how evidence of competencies will be achieved.

Given support, a failing student has the opportunity to develop sufficiently to progress; however, you may find that you have to make the decision to fail the student. The next section looks at the challenges you face when you make that decision.


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