Before commencing on the course I felt I had a thorough knowledge of mentorship and assessing professional practice. I had in the past successfully undertaken a programme of study at State University, gaining a Certificate in Education in post compulsory education. I had previously mentored numerous pre-registration student nurses and also spent time as a clinical practice teacher for specialist practitioner students undertaking the public health degree pathway to becoming Health Visitors. I was not sure whether I would learn anything new on this programme, so looked at the opportunity as a way of refreshing and updating my existing knowledge.
During the learning process I have rediscovered a number of key principles and also discovered new ones. The most profound changes I have discovered are the professional and organisational policies that affect mentoring and education in the nursing and midwifery professions. At the start my learning process I want to identify the type of learner I am and used the VARK assessment tool devised by Fleming (1992). It showed that I would benefit from read/write strategies as these would enhance learning more than visual, auditory and kinaesthetic strategies. I would agree with this to a degree, but still believe that I can and do learn from observation and practice. Fleming does however state that we all learn from all of the strategies but we tend to sway towards just one and gain most benefit from it. I therefore looked for strategies that would involve reading/writing strategies eg. Literature searching, reading any information that suggested it may be useful in improving my knowledge of learning and mentoring students.
One of the things I was particularly interested in was increasing my knowledge of different learning theories. I therefore committed myself to discovering as many theories as possible. In all I probably found more than forty recognised learning theories, some very similar to others, but found a good definition by Cross (1981) who presents the Characteristics of Adults as Learners (CAL) model in the context of her analysis of lifelong learning programs. Her model attempts to combine other theories of adult learning such as andragogy (Knowles, 1984), experiential learning (Rogers, 1969) and lifespan psychology. Cross’ CAL model is intended to provide guidelines for developing adult education programs. Although there is no available research to support the model it’s principles are applicable in nursing practice.
The CAL principles are as follows;
1. Adult learning programs should recognise the experience of learners.
2. Adult learning programs should be adaptable to the limitations of the learners.
3. Adults should be challenged to move to increasingly advanced stages of personal development.
4. Adults should have as much choice as possible in the availability and organization of learning programs.
I found these four principles particularly applicable to my own learning. Firstly the way...