Journal of Community Nursing - page 103

JCN
2013,Vol 27, No 4
103
IMPROVING PRACTICE
S
elf-directed learning
and reflective practice
are key components of
undergraduate, postgraduate and
professional development for
nurses. In the progression from
student to practitioner, or from
novice to expert, nurses are required
to use independent study skills and
reflection to identify their learning
and professional needs (Benner,
2001; Rogers, 2003; Glen and
Parker, 2003; O’Shea, 2003; Pryce-
Miller, 2010).
Self-directed learning is a
natural process for many nurses
following education programmes,
but for others it can be a steep
learning curve. To reach expert
practitioner status and maintain
clinical excellence, it is essential
that nurses learn how to evaluate
and think about what they are
doing (Benner, 2001).
The use of a reflective grid to aid
community nurse education
SELF-DIRECTED LEARNING
Self-directed learning is the best
choice for adult students who,
with some kind of facilitation or
mentorship, are able to assess
what knowledge and skills they
already have from previous
experience or courses and identify
Hand in hand with the
confidence and skill required for
self-directed study is the concept of
reflective learning, which involves
working through an experience
using a process of systematic critical
thinking focusing on actions,
thoughts and feelings (Kolb, 1984;
Benner, 2001; Johns, 2004; Bulman
and Schutz, 2008).The reflective
process enables students to make
sense of their experiences, gain self-
awareness, evaluate their practice
and think critically.
As with self-directed learning,
some students (the term ‘students’
is used throughout to include
postgraduate nurses) find reflective
practice an added burden, especially
if they are not reflective learners.
There is much evidence
to support the importance of
individuals identifying their
‘learning style’ at the beginning of
education programmes to help the
process of self-direction (Rogers,
2003). Broadly, there are four
categories of learning (Honey and
Mumford, 1986):
Active
Pragmatic
Theorist
Reflective.
Many individuals use a
combination of these styles and
will score higher in one of the four
areas. Therefore, it is likely that
some students will have a weak
reflective learning style.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE
REFLECTIVE GRID
Against this backdrop, and based
on experience as a mentor and
practice teacher for child branch
nurses and health visitors, the
author developed the reflective grid
Marian Judd, Health Visitor/Practice Teacher, Great
Western Hospital Trust, Swindon
Self-directed learning and reflective practice are crucial tools for the
community nurse, who may often work in isolation and without the
help or guidance of colleagues. Community nurses are required to use
independent study skills and reflection to identify their learning and
professional needs. This article looks at the development of a reflective
grid as a learning tool to support and facilitate reflective and self-
directed learning. It is hoped that the techniques detailed here can help
those students and nurses who are still developing their reflective and
critical skills, or find reflection difficult. The grid was also designed
to facilitate a quick and easy analysis before an in-depth study of an
experience, or as a stand-alone model for short reflections.
KEYWORDS:
Education
Self-directed learning
Reflective practice
‘Self-directed study is a
natural process for many
nurses following education
programmes, but for others
it can be a steep learning
curve.’
Marian Judd
what new learning needs to take
place to allow them to gain new
competencies.
This progression to adult learning
is a process leading from the
individual being dependent on a
teacher for instruction through to
self-direction, and is not related to
age or experience (Rogers, 2003).
Therefore, it should not be assumed
that mature students or registered
nurses are skilled in self-directed
learning.
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