January 26, 2010, by Teaching at Nottingham

Learning Sets as a strategy to enable learning from a work placement

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Alison: “I think the role of the learning set, for me, in bringing students and mentors to share their practice is to develop critical thinking, to actually enable students and mentors to critically discuss, have time to reflect, have time to think about and challenge practice and then usually take some action, personal or professional, if they need to move forward on anything.”

Learning set

Alison: “So have you learned about assessment and doing it in a different way?”

Jenny: “Oh yeah. (…) a district nurse placement, to a neurological assessment is totally different. It’s more about having a chat and like you say, you pick bits out and you find, without them necessarily telling you what the problem is, you pick bits out about you’ve got to, yeah.”

Alison: “So are you going to behave differently when you go on the wards? Will you see the person and not the condition? ”

Jenny: “Yeah. (…) See it more, like Veronica said you see them more as a person instead of just a condition. ”

Alison: “Yeah. So you have learned something you can take forward with you? ”

Jenny: “Yeah.”

Alison: “Would you say the same, Jo, that it’s changed your perception of…? ”

Jo: “Yeah. Definitely. I think, (…) on my first ever placement, I was on stroke ward, Beeston Ward, and, all I wanted to know about was strokes, you know, why do people have strokes and what causes strokes? And when you’re working on a ward, it’s very task-orientated, and unfortunately, you do miss the individual person (…) lay in that bed, as much as I try, you know, and you do have more time, there’s, as a student nurse, to sit and chat and things but, I think, yeah, it definitely, community placements is see the whole, you know, the whole person, what’s happening, what’s (…)”

Veronica: “(…) different things as well, like risk factors and stuff which are easily transferable from cardiology to neuro to urology to all sorts of different placements.”

Alison: “Mentors and students are expressing similar issues, similar concerns. I bring them together every so often, I chose once a fortnight, because it seemed I could do it turn and turn about, to talk about their practice, help them make the links, help them deconstruct the proficiencies, help them think about types of evidence that mentors weren’t familiar, students weren’t used to using.”

Jo: “I think it’s about shared knowledge, isn’t it, and how people see things differently or have done something differently. Like, myself and my mentor could be sat looking at something and really struggling on how to cover the competency, proficiency, and then to be sat with another mentor or you know, Alison, and then talk about how they see it, and what they’ve done to be able to achieve it or, you know, just look at different ideas and that shared knowledge is really useful, because sometimes, you can feel that you’re on your own, but you know somebody out there’s also experiencing this.”

Annie: “I think you get very blinkered and very focussed and lot of my training was twenty years ago and the training has changed and it’s nice to keep updated because you don’t usually have that opportunity to see what the new students are coming out with and learning. And looking at students as well, which things work well for them, they might have had an experience that worked well that you think, Oh yeah, I could utilise that for my student next time, and that might help them understand that a little bit better.”

Authors: Annie Byng, Alison Clark, Jo-anne Fisher, Veronica Hunting-Young, Jenny Walters (School of Nursing, Midwifery & Physiotherapy).

Extracts from meetings between student nurses, their professional mentors and an academic, and interviews with the participants, produced as part of a CEPPL funded project on placement learning.
This article was originally published as part of PESL’s Teaching at Nottingham collection. Produced January 2010.

Posted in Placements and work based learningSmall groups