An analysis of a learning environment within a clinical placement

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Susie Shek

Student ID: 0400799

DIP HE Nursing (Adult)

April 2004 Cohort

Module Code: NU2008

An analysis of a learning environment within a clinical placement

This assignment will reflect on the nature of teaching and learning processes within a surgical unit at a local Hospital. Some of the factors influencing a learning experience will be discussed and linked to known teaching and learning theories. Physical and psychosocial factors that affect the learning process will also be explored. To assist in the development of learning for future students, an action plan will be formulated from the issues recognised throughout this paper.

The learning experience discussed in this report has been chosen because it is felt that the mentor on this particular placement has been the most effective at contributing towards the development and progression of my learning as a student. Reflection enables people to recapture their experiences (Bond & Walker, 1985). I have therefore reflected on the placement as a whole. Any names mentioned are fictitious in accordance with the Nursing and Midwifery Counsel (NMC) Code of Professional Conduct (NMC, 2004).

An introductory letter was sent by the student facilitator two weeks before the placement began. It covered all necessary details such as examples of surgical procedures the unit regularly encounters, and required work hours. Using this information I was able to investigate the type of care that would be needed. I was also able to establish some key areas that I could enquire about to fully understand necessary procedures. This type of self-directed learning is driven by motivation and andragogy, which are key components known to influence the direction of the adult learner (Rogers, 1996). Charters (2000) also states voluntary learning that is active and personal to the individual are effective methods of learning.

An introductory questionnaire was also received. Although this was a welcome difference compared to most placements, my answers were not discussed with my mentor upon my arrival. This limited my opportunities to communicate any additional needs or concerns but I did have the chance to discuss the learning contract that I had developed prior to my arrival. This is again principally a self-directing, andragogical process, as stated by Knowles (1990). Additionally, it is well recognised that learning contracts can provide the means to meet the needs of the learner (Rogers, 1983).

During the initial discussion with Anna I felt I was able to influence the upcoming learning events, because I was able to identify my advanced beginner status (Benner, 2001) which allowed Anna to act accordingly to develop my learning needs. I voiced my expectations and the curriculum requirements, both of which factors are associated with the self-direction of the adult learner (Knowles, 1990).


We agreed to be in close contact for the initial 3 weeks and it was arranged that I shadow her work hours to ensure I had as much one-to-one mentoring as possible. This was extremely beneficial as she could track my progress and provide me with guidance during the first few weeks (Chow & Seun, 2001). At this point my learning was being promoted because Anna was skilled in student-led strategies. For example, she consistently explored my understanding of a task whilst providing support (Heron, 2001). I also felt positive about having the opportunity to develop a good relationship with her which is recognised as being beneficial to the learning process (Dix & Hughes, 2004).

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According to Maslow (1971) the humanist theory of learning is concerned with feelings and experiences. My learning was definitely influenced by her positive attitude and manner, which, as suggested by Maslow leads to personal growth and individual fulfilment. In addition, Anna had adopted a neobehaviourist approach to learning, which is identified by constant communication, planning of feedback and regular evaluation (Nicklin & Kenworthy, 2000).  

During my time on placement it was clear that Anna was creating learning opportunities and resources at all times. I also found she was able to explain tasks clearly and to answer any questions ...

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