It has been accepted that assessment of students in practice is integral to the mentor’s role, it ultimately ensures public protection and patient safety as it should be the means of deeming a practitioner as either competent or incompetent (Watson et al 2002). The importance of assessment in practice has been reiterated by the Royal College of Nursing who called for provision of protected time for mentor’s and students to complete teaching and assessing (RCN 2007a).
In order to create an environment conducive to learning, the learner must be assisted by the mentor to identify their learning needs (NMC 2006). On ‘A’ ’s first day, after orientation, we were able to draw up a range of learning opportunities so that there was an awareness of what ‘A’ hoped to gain from the community experience. ‘A’ was also advised on the standards to be achieved throughout the placement . I felt it was important to ascertain specific personal boundaries in order to establish a respectable mentor / student relationship( ) .The initial assessment was carried out to identify ‘A’ ‘s learning outcomes, in this teaching/assessment strategies, learning opportunities were discussed. ‘A’ was encouraged to participate to aid planning. I ensured that each day time was made available for the student to research and develop his knowledge base using the variety of resources available.
‘A’ expressed a desire to explore the areas around care planning, wound care management and multidisciplinary working. Learning outcomes help to ensure that both mentor and student take an active role in the learning that occurs (Quinn, 2000). On working with ‘A’ for a few days and after building up a relationship with him it was important to identify ‘A’ ‘s learning style. It is important to identify a learner’s style so that material can be adapted to facilitate effective learning (McNair, 2007). Learners have preferences for certain kinds of information and ways of using that information to learn (Chambers et al 2000). Honey and Mumford have undertaken an enormous amount of work on the type of activities through which different people learn best (Chambers et al 2000). According to Honey and Mumford (1992) there are four learning styles; Activists, reflectors, theorists and pragmatists. With this in mind I used open ended questions to evaluate A’s learning style (Hinchcliff 1999). It revealed that both of our learning styles corresponded to reflector and pragmatist. This enabled a positive and empathic exchange of learning and teaching experiences between both student and I which enabled me to adapt and utilize a variety of teaching techniques. However, if I and the student were off differing learning styles material can be adapted to facilitate effective learning (McNair, 2007). The Nursing and Midwifery Council (2006) has developed standards which indicate that mentors should try and achieve ‘best fit’ with the level and type of learners that they come across in practice.
It was clear from ‘A’‘s first day that he was learning in an andragogical way. This became apparent when drawing up learning opportunities. As A was a mature student with recent higher education experience he already had his objectives in mind and knew what he wanted to gain out of his community...