A Comprehensive Teaching and Assessment Strategy, Essay Example
The below analysis will focus on how to support underachieving students using effective mentoring, empowerment, and motivational techniques. The author of the current research will assess the scenario of a second year student arriving for a 5 week placement and being assigned to mentoring to improve their academic performance. The author of the current research will focus on methods that would improve the student’s long term learning outcomes, confidence, collaboration, (AONE, 2011) and research skills that will result in improved grades and confidence level in the knowledge area. The below outline will incorporate contemporary theories and educational/mentoring frameworks that have been proven by researchers to have a positive impact on learning outcomes and academic competencies. Further, the research will build the strategy on a personal level, taking into consideration the individual characteristics of the student, their current situation, aspirations, strengths, and development areas. The main focus area of the author will be using individualized consideration, as a transformational leadership approach to identify the person’s characteristics that determine their learning style, approaches, interests, challenges, and strengths.
In the clinical practice, mentoring and coaching by experienced staff is considered to have a positive impact on academic progress. As students are assigned with placements, they often find it challenging to put knowledge learned in the classroom into practice. They need to be able to find a connection between the theories and principles learned in college and the practical aspect of the job. They need to develop critical thinking skills to reflect on individual situations in a professional manner, learn from experienced staff, and ask relevant questions that help them complete their jobs efficiently. Ramani and Lenster (2008) confirms that educators in the clinical environment need to fulfill six different roles: being an information provider, a role model, facilitator, assessor, the planner of the curriculum, and resource creator. The above claim indicates that a multidisciplinary, individualized approach is needed to empower students and help them achieve their academic and professional goals.
In order to successfully prepare nurses to their future jobs, clinical education needs to focus on building competencies, according to Phaneuf (n.d.). Further, Hand (2006:55) concludes that “the quality of mentors and teachers will have a major impact on the quality of future practitioners”. Based on the above statements, it is evident that the strategy to improve academic and job-based coaching has a strong impact on the performance of the health care system. When students seem to be under-achieving, the strategy of teaching and coaching should be refocused to suit the individual needs of the person better. The below described strategy of learning and coaching intervention will be based on the analysis of the individual situation, the clinical setting, the characteristics of the mentor, and the requirements/challenges that the second-year student is likely to face. One of the main recommendations of Hand (2006) is that clinical placement should offer increased support to help students obtain sufficient practical skills. As Ramani and Lenster (2008) confirm, clinical teaching and coaching usually involves skill development that is focused on patients and their health issues. Therefore, the effective coach will need to help the student turn their knowledge into practical benefits resulting in better health outcomes of patients.
In the current examined case, the second year student is reported to have struggled in their previous placement. This indicates that they would have a low motivation to succeed, and potentially a lack of skills that would help them improve professionally. In many cases, students who struggle in their first placements find it hard to transition from an academic setting to a work environment. The AONE Guiding Principles (2010) state that supporting the above transition is the responsibility of leaders and interdisciplinary colleagues, among others. As Goodwin-Esola, Deely & Powell (2009) state, the majority of newly qualified nurses find it difficult to transition into a health care environment and face practical challenges. Therefore, the main focus of the assessment and effective coaching program should be on identifying the main problems that the individual student is facing during the transition period, and effectively address these through individual interventions involving motivation, skill development, reflection, and competency building.
Mwai (2011) talks about Hersey’s (1969) situational leadership model and its applicability to coaching and on-job training. Wyld (2010) defines situational leadership as an approach that moves the focus to the individuals’ job role and requirements. There are several development levels based on two aspects of the environment: commitment and competence. Therefore, before the coaching program can be developed, it is important to assess the student’s competency and commitment level to address the relevant training challenges. Based on Wyld’s (2010) differentiation of leadership styles, the coaching/telling style should be utilized, which is applicable when the individual has some competence but their commitment is low. It is likely that in the previous placement the student either originally lacked commitment, or their confidence and commitment was reduced based on the lack of success.
Before implementing situational leadership in the coaching program development, it is essential that the mentor completes a leaders analysis (Mwai 2011). This would help with identifying the leadership qualities that can positively impact followers’ (students’) behavior. The next section of the strategy paper will focus on the qualities an effective coach and leader needs to possess for positive mentoring outcomes.
The effective mentor
The effective mentor and coach, according to Ramani and Krackov (2012) is able to assess the competency of the student and provide feedback effectively in the clinical environment. The authors state that learning outcomes of health care professionals should be measured based on competencies achieved in a clinical setting. The main characteristics of a supportive learning environment created by a coach are described by Ramani and Krackov (2012) as follows: being able to establish a supportive, positive environment, communicating goals that are set together, observational skills to base feedback on, conducting learner self-assessment sessions, creating an action plan based on assessment, and confirming understanding.
A recent study by Jokelainen (2013) state that the best way to assess the quality of mentorship in clinical environments is to reflect on the relationship between the mentor and the student. Mentoring, according to the author (Jokelainen 2013: 4) “promotes student’s learning and professional growth”. One of the most important finding of the literature review presented by Jokelainen (2013) is that there should be an effective collaboration between the education and practice. This involves monitoring the curriculum of the educational institution, constructing programs that are closely related to academic subjects, and taking into consideration the individual student’s learning preferences.
McKimm, Jollie, and Hatter (2007) define mentoring as an approach that leads to knowledge transition from academic subjects to working environments. Effective mentors should also help students cope with a new situation through building competencies together. There are several benefits of mentoring for students, described by McKimm et al. (2007). They help them develop analytical and reflective skills, which is extremely relevant to the clinical environment’s challenges. Mentoring can also develop and improve self-confidence and competency, as well as the willingness to take risks. Mentoring is thought to have the capacity o accelerating professional development, developing autonomy, independence, and integrity in the profession. Mentors who also act as role models can further encourage ongoing learning and motivate students to continue develop their skills, while focusing on individual needs and personal relationships. The most valuable mentoring skills, according to McKimm et al. (2007) are questioning, listening, providing supportive feedback, and influencing.
Ervin (2005) states that effective mentors and coaches are able to create an environment that promotes self-development and a reflective practice. Further, coaching can help students learn how to implement evidence based practice and put their knowledge into use when dealing with challenging situations and crises. Therefore, mentoring is able to empower individual students, help them become more competent and able to take initiatives to solve problems that might occur within their practice.
Subramaniam et al. (2015) surveyed doctors in teaching hospitals to understand the perspective of students on the qualities needed for effective mentorship. The results of the survey showed that coaching and mentoring supervision styles had a positive impact on talent development. The importance of a positive learning environment was also confirmed.
As a summary, when developing one’s mentoring approach, it is important to conclude a leadership self-assessment, create a positive environment for learning, and creating goals for interventions. When designing individual learning and development strategies, based on mentoring and coaching in clinical practice, however, it is important to focus on the student’s particular challenges with transitioning from the academic field of studies to clinical practice. For this, it is important to evaluate the second-year student’s learning styles, commitment, skill levels, strengths, and development areas. The next part of the study will focus on the importance of individual learning styles, taking into consideration contemporary theories of induction-based coaching.
II. c. The role of learning styles
When designing learning intervention programs, it is important to take into consideration the learning style of the student. Several tools have been developed in the past by researchers to help coaches, mentors, and teachers effectively identify the right programs for skills development and competency building.
Learning styles, according to Romanelli et al. (2009) define how the learner would perceive, react to, and interact with the learning environment. Learning styles do have personality and behavior aspects. Understanding learning styles can not only benefit educators, but also students as well. The most commonly used method for assessing learning styles is the Learning Style Inventory Instrument (LSI), based on Kolb’s (1984) original model. Most institutions that focus on individual development of students use the Learning Style Questionnaire, created by Honey and Mumford (1989). The questionnaire is relevant to the clinical practice, as it does not only focus on methods of acquiring knowledge, but also personal preferences and habits. This type of knowledge can help mentors and coaches understand the individual’s strengths and weaknesses, and design the program to fit the student’s needs. The general learning styles assessed through the questionnaire are: activists, reflectors, theorists, and pragmatists (Honey and Mumford 2006). Activists are individuals who are open to new experiences and are ready to take risks. Reflectors observe experiences from different perspectives and collect information before coming to a concision. Theorists have the ability to integrate observations into theories, and these people are able to find patterns, trends, and correlations easier than others. Finally, pragmatists are hands-on individuals who are ready to apply new theories that have the potential of improving results. They take the initiative to search for new ideas and create experiments. These people learn through exploration of practice, and often initiate research studies to test new evidence-based practice effectiveness.
The benefit of applying the above described, 80-question assessment, created by Honey and Mumford (2006) are obvious. The coach will be able to determine the right induction methods, the mentor assigned to the person, and the peers they will be collaborating with.
One of the summary articles featuring the latest competency assessment tools for nursing (Alison Evans Consulting 2008) features a list of methods that can be used by mentors to measure students’ competencies in clinical setting. Some of the most promising tools are peer reviews, observations, and self-assessments. Before developing an assessment of competencies, however, it is important to collaborate with academic and clinical staff to ensure that the indicators measured are relevant to the practice and meaningful (Alison Evans Consulting 2008). In the current case, therefore, the mentor will complete a competency and learning style assessment prior to developing a mentoring and coaching program, collaborate with academic staff, and request both peer reviews and self-assessment to complete the information obtained from the learning style questionnaire.
II. d. Theories related to learning and cognition
Hand (2006) lists the main educational theories that are relevant to tailoring learning to individual needs. Behaviorism and the related theories assume that the learning environment has a significant impact on outcomes, therefore, stimuli, responses, and reinforcement need to be designed to promote desired behaviors of students. Positive behaviors need to be reinforced, while feedback needs to be provided on a regular basis. Ramani and Krackov (2012) seem to confirm the above statement, claiming that feedback should always be based on direct observation to be relevant and credible. Further, feedback should always incorporate the reinforcement of objectives and individual goals. As an interesting idea, the authors (Ramani and Krackov 2012) suggest that coaching sessions should always start with a reflection on the learner’s self-assessment.
The cognitive learning theory focuses on the internal process of acquiring knowledge and skills, such as problem-solving and reasoning. Hand (2006: 57) states that – based on the author’s experience – “Nursing students enter the profession from a variety of backgrounds”. This is important as during coaching the educator should take into consideration previous experiences, knowledge, and skills, instead of ignoring them as irrelevant. As an example: if the student who has been assigned for mentoring has had social care service experience, they can apply their empathy in the new environment, and find that they possess qualities that are interchangeable. This would also increase their confidence and positively impact their attitude towards learning. As the authors state, being able to connect a new area of learning to an existing competency can improve students’ success rates.
Finally, the humanistic philosophy of learning described by Hand (2006) focus on human interaction and collaboration. The most important areas of enhancing learning experiences identified by theorists are listening, supporting students in reflecting on situations on a cognitive and emotional level, sensitivity to individual needs, empathy, and the successful identification of individual strengths and weaknesses.
From the above theoretical review it is evident that the interaction between the mentor and the student should be focused around individual needs and the results of the self-assessment, peer review, as well as the learning style questionnaire. Behaviorist theories will help the mentor identify the patterns of student responses, the cognitive theories support the development of the curriculum, while the humanistic philosophy provides a foundation for creating positive interpersonal relationships.
II. e. The specific characteristics of a clinical learning environment
Effective mentoring in the health care, according to Gopee (2015) is aimed at facilitating learning and increasing personal competencies. Further, the author states that mentors can be nurses, nurse leaders, assessors, and they need to take on several roles in the clinical environment. The author (Gopee 2015) explores the various aspects of mentoring, such as skills assessment, acting as a role model, envisioner, supporter, eye opener, among others. That stated, it is important to note that the role of mentoring in clinical environments is more complex than in other professions.
Burns et al. (2006) state that one of the main challenges of mentoring is to manage the clinical workload while empowering new health care professionals. The authors state that in health care the proportion of adult learners who transition into health care after obtaining their first degree is high. Therefore, mentors need to take into consideration the specific characteristics of adult learners, such as lifestyle, beliefs, preferences, and aspirations before designing a development and coaching plan. Further, the expectations and challenges related to the student’s specific role also need to be assessed. It is imperative that coaching involves providing sufficient learning experiences for students with appropriate patients. Further, mentors need to engage with other colleagues to participate in the student’s education and share their expertise.
Ramani and Leinster (2008) list the most important challenges of teaching in clinical environments. According to the review, mentors often face time constraints, high pressure of work demands, lack of incentives and rewards based on student outcomes, and patient related issues.
Fielden (2005) signifies the importance of coaching relationships. According to the literature review created for the National Health Service in the United Kingdom (NHS), the authors state that an individual framework for coaching should be developed for each student to determine the level of control, belonging, and closeness. The framework proposed by the author follows a simple structure of assessment, developmental plan, public announcement of goals and objectives, and implementation. Further, the review also includes methods that focus on cultural alignment between the organization and the learner to improve outcomes.
The above identified framework could be applied for developing an intervention strategy for the second year student to improve their competency, commitment, interpersonal, and learning skills by identifying personal preferences of induction styles.
II. f. Improving Learning Experiences
Grant (2012) highlights the importance of goal-focused coaching in education. In the current situation, the goal that the mentor could identify would be to ensure that the student gets all the support they need to become a confident and competent health care professional. The applicability of the goal theory in the health care practice is evident. Clinical education should focus on empowering students to apply their knowledge in practice. Grant (2012: 148) defines goals as “internal representations of desired states or outcomes”. That stated, the need for self-assessment and competency analysis is confirmed. In order to improve learning outcomes, Grant (2012) adds two more steps to the individual development plan framework described by Fielden (2005): monitoring and evaluation. Without measuring progress against goals and evaluating individual performance of students, it is not possible to determine whether or not the mentoring program added value for the student and the organization. Outcome goals need to be specific, easy to measure, and related to the future role of the student in the health care profession.
The above review of related theories and literature has provided the researcher with a framework for creating a personalized development plan for mentoring. The second year student who has previously been underachieving and lacking competencies will be assessed based on the learning styles questionnaire. The mentor will further create a collaborative relationship with the educational institution to better understand the learning methods and preferences of the individual. Peer reviews from previous and current colleagues will be collected to help the mentor tailor the program to the needs of the student. A self-assessment will be completed prior to the start of the program, and clear goals will be set in line with the professional aspirations of the student, as well as their future role. Once the goals are set, the framework proposed by Grant (2012) will be implemented, with particular focus on cultural alignment and interpersonal relationships. Progress will be monitored and evaluated, and the student will be provided with regular feedback, as well as peer reviews and competency assessment in the end of the 5-week placement. This way, the mentor can ensure that the professional development of the student is recorded, in particular focus on development areas and strengths. This information will help the individual later in their learning journey within the health care profession.
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