For the purposes of this assignment I shall be critically analysing, reflecting and evaluating my performance as a mentor while undertaking the Mentor Development Course. During this course, I was working as Acting Unit Manager in Intermediate Care Services, within a new and unique setting.
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My learner is a second year graduate entry student and was delegated to understand the underlying concept of Multi-Disciplinary Team approach utilising Patient’s Goal-Oriented Care Planning. As a registered nurse I have a duty within the NMC Code of Conduct (2004 p8) to help and assist nursing students, midwifery and others to improve their competence in practice. By educating my learner to utilise this approach enable me to delegate confidently the task during multi-disciplinary team meetings. This will contribute the efficiency of the unit and effective patients’ discharge planning.
Quinn (2000) suggests that mentorship perceived as an important concept by the nursing and midwifery professions. ENB (1993) describes mentor as ‘a 1st level nurse who by example and facilitation, guides, assists and supports students in learning new skills and adopting new behaviour and attitudes’. Palmer (1994) also described mentor as a role model who can actively influence the development of the mentee’s career.’ In this connection, the above definitions of mentorship will be used as the benchmark in the creation of my learning environment.
The initial meeting with my learner included the discussion of her previous education and working experiences. This information was used to devise an individualised development plan with expected learning outcomes to make her placement substantial and effective. This is in line with the UKCC (1999) Fitness for Practice recommendation 13 which states that student and mentor know what is expected of them throughout the placement. They also suggest the need for competencies and there are provided in the learner’s practice folder. We discussed which the priorities of the learner are. In order to identify her learning needs, I evaluated her previous knowledge of the subject matter aiming to formulate a personal development plan.
My learner was not aware about her own learning style. In this connection, I assisted her in completion of the learning styles questionnaire by Honey and Mumford (1986). This revealed that my learner has a moderate preference of a reflector approach to learning. As Honey and Mumford (1986) described ‘a reflective approach learns by listening to different perspectives before coming to a conclusions’. In this way, lecturing and demonstrating the concepts be therefore the method of my teaching. However, in other aspects of my teaching, I will also utilise facilitation; as the literature does state that facilitation is one of the many facets of mentor role (Morton-Cooper & Palmer 2000).
During our discussion, she imparted her previous educational background was based more from the traditional methods of teaching i.e. the didactic teaching of children or teacher led environment with pedagogic approach. We discussed about the value of andragogy in adult teaching whereby Knowles (1990), wherein he makes the assumptions that adults’ learners are self-directed, motivated and that an andragogical approach to education can contribute towards a student developing a positive attitude to lifelong learning.
During our discussion, she revealed that she had a desire of becoming self-directed learner and partially will be able to control of her learning. Therefore, through my encouragement, to be self-motivated, I advised her to read and investigate relative to the subject matter before the teaching session takes place. This ‘motivation in learning is that compulsion which keeps a person within the learning situation and encourages him/her to learn’. (Downie & Basford 2003).
On reflection, there is positive implication of this action for both of us. By allowing her to share teaching-learning process leading her to be responsible, independent and self-motivated individual. On the other hand, I also encouraged her to be self-directed and leading her in some respects. This will enable me to sustain from being the individual controlling the teaching session. Thus, Rogers (1983) states that ‘of special concern, it changes the function of a teacher from ‘telling information’ to one of providing choice and facilitating inquiry activity’.
A formal teaching was organised to a suitable learning areas with lesser disturbance. Due to the larger scope of my subject matter two sessions was set to support the main topic. The first teaching session served as an introduction of a new topic as Quinn (2000) suggests one advantage of the lecture method.
The second teaching session was presented through powerpoint and handouts. However, to increase the reality of the session I presented true life case scenarios, these were based on the patients were admitted and successfully discharged from the unit using our approach and pathways. Utilising the unit care plan approach, I facilitated her to critically analyse the given scenario and encouraged her to produce an individualised care plan with the use of her creativity in problem-solving and decision-making (De Bono, 1986 cited in Quinn 2000). The learner reflected satisfactorily on the completed care plan. In addition, she was able to express experiences, feelings and reasoning in discovering solution to issues presented in the given case scenario. These were examined through the use of debriefing technique which where we looked at the strength and weaknesses of her plan. In this way, I was able to strengthen her awareness of the importance of interpersonal communication skills which she could then practice in the actual setting (Quinn 2000).
On reflection, I have proven that the two sessions have created an impact to meet both of our expectations for being a teacher and a participative learner as I have received a positive feedback to my learner and my mentor. As Kolb (1984) emphasized that ‘active involvement of the student is one of the key characteristics of this form of learning together with student-centeredness, a degree of interaction, some measure of autonomy and a high degree of relevance’.
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Due to staff shortage, increased demands of works in the unit, the limitation of time to teach my learner was compromised. In order for her to meet the learning and experience she requires, the support and assistance within the multi-disciplinary team and my colleagues were sought in order to help her to make the environment conducive for learning. Because of my commitment to our organization, I ensured myself a time especially in those significant areas of learning stated in the learning contracts to achieve our objectives. As a result, my learner’s learning experienced in the unit was effectively explored.
To provide structure to the summative assessment of my learner I utilised the framework described by Rowntree (1987) wherein he described five dimensional activities undertaken during assessment, which are: Why assess, what assess, how to assess, how to interpret and how to respond.
While Rowntree (1987) suggest that not all of the activities might be appropriate for all assessment situations, during the assessment of my learner, all were guided with supervision. I assessed my learner’s new learning to discover whether she has learned everything I had taught her (why assess). I observed her performance and how she demonstrated the approach, discussed and examined her conceptual knowledge through completed care plans and requested to write a reflective summary of the new learning she acquired (what to/how to assess). My interpretation is that she presented both written and practical side efficiently and during feedback/discussion time, revealed that she had experienced an effective learning process (how to interpret). On reflection, it shown that I have been a successful mentor in this occasion and she had internalised her new acquired knowledge (how to respond).
Consequently, Rowntree’s assessment framework was enhanced through my utilization of Steinaker & Bell’s (1979) taxonomy of experiential learning theory, as they describe five different categories within their taxonomy, these are: exposure, participation, identification, internalisation, and dissemination. In this stage, a learning episode was developed through the process of these categories that my learner was exposed to the teaching session of the subject matter, participated, assimilated, performed and demonstrated effectively new knowledge she acquired.
My learner’s identification of the topics that I have discussed enables her to identify the connection between the approach and the setting of goal-oriented care plan when she demonstrated in the practical setting. She portrayed her internalisation by effectively completing her care plan assessment and this competence will be utilised continuously in the future. Dissemination and sharing experience to peers and co-students will be shown and be considerably evident ahead the ability to teach others after sufficient experience.
I critically examine my ability and competence as becoming a mentor in practice. In this process, I created an effective and personalised teaching and assessing participated by my learner although some accompanied barriers identified. However, I will need a range of experience and practice of my own learning and this will potentially give me a bigger influence to my practice and will involve closely being an effective mentor within my area of practice.
My immediate plans involve analysing the philosophy of teaching and assessing in my area of practice; to examine each student’s experiences while on placement and if necessary, will contribute the development of the teaching practice. In future, I am looking forward to enhance as a mentor in practice through my own area, student feedback and individual reflection. Being a part of students’ learning process is a great privilege, and I am looking forward to facilitate, guide, help and assist them to become an effective individuals and this will benefit her in the development of her potentials to become one of our future colleagues.
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