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Principles of Teaching and Learning for Nursing Practice

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To maximise the odds for success of this planned intervention, a combination of self-directed and teacher-directed learning were adopted as teaching methods. The intervention involved a one-week preparation on the part of the student, which was actually an application of independent or self-directed learning as a teaching methodology. Contrary to the belief that independent learning results from individual objectives and behaviours, Harvey and Chickie-Wolfe (2007) argued that independent learning is “ actually socially mediated” (p 24). Studying and learning independently implies that although it is the individual learner who regulates his/her own behaviours, the capacity to self-regulate tends to be influenced by environmental variables, which are not generally available.

In this case, encouragement on the part of the mentor for the student to undergo an intervention served as the social mediator.   The student’ s choice of which two cardiac drugs to concentrate on, including mastery of the indications, interaction and side effects of the drugs were part of the self-directed learning. The student’ s own choice of which two patients to observe in order to relate the cardiac drugs to the patients’ condition was also, in effect a component of self-directed learning.

As Hunter (2004) puts it, there are skills or knowledge for which it is best for the students themselves be independent learners. The preparations for the session articulated in the first section of this paper were, in effect, part of teacher-directed learning.   As the actual session progressed, the student presented the case of Mr X with the aid of printouts of  Powerpoint slides. The teacher-mentor team discussed the cardiac drugs and how these medications related to the symptoms and treatment of the patient in the brainstorming process where ideas flowed naturally.

In retrospect, even if the mentor were present and exchanging ideas with the student, what actually transpired was a student-learning where the mentor facilitated the student’ s assessment of his own work, as suggested in Gibbons (2002).  

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