Learning is a very important part of human development. In social life as well as for a person to be a part of any profession, the individual must first acquire the skill and knowledge necessary for them to be able to function in that particular environment. How learning takes place has been studied from the time human beings first began wondering how things work. The Nursing profession recognises a number of important theories of learning, some of which have been borrowed from fields such as education, sociology and psychology, while some have been developed by fellow nurses with training in the mentioned fields. The two main theories that are going to be discussed in this paper are Benners model of learning and development of skill, and the constructivist model. The constructivist model/theory was developed over time by scholars from various fields, and as a result many different perspectives co-exist within it (Piaget 1966; Von Glaserfeld 1984; Vygotsky 1978; Wells 1995). Patricia Benner is nurse that conducted research using the Dreyfus Model (1981), which led her to come up with the theory detailed below (Benner, 1984). Benners model will be discussed first followed by a discussion of the constructivist model. And then a comparison will be made between the two illustrating similarities and differences. Finally a conclusion will bring the paper to the end. BENNER’S STAGES OF CLINICAL COMPETENCE (P. Benner, 1984)
In the acquisition and development of a skill, a nurse passes through five levels of proficiency: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert. Stage 1: Novice
The Novice or beginner has no experience in the situations in which they are expected to perform. The Novice will lack confidence to demonstrate safe practice and requires continual verbal and physical cues. Practice should be within a prolonged time period and he/she is unable to use discretionary judgement. Stage 2: Advanced Beginner
Advanced Beginners demonstrate marginally acceptable performance because the nurse/student would have prior experience in actual situations. He/she is efficient and skilful in parts of the practice area, requiring occasional supportive cues. The learning may/may not be within a delayed time period. A Knowledge base is developing in the individual.
Stage 3: Competent
Competence is demonstrated by the nurse who has been on the job in the same or similar situations for two or three years. The nurse is able to demonstrate efficiency, is coordinated and has confidence in his/her actions. For the Competent nurse, a plan establishes a perspective, and the plan is based on considerable conscious, abstract, analytic contemplation of the problem. The conscious, deliberate planning that is characteristic of this skill level helps achieve efficiency and organisation. Care is completed within a suitable time frame without supporting cues. Stage 4: Proficient
The Proficient nurse perceives situations as wholes rather than in terms of chopped up parts or aspects. Proficient nurses understand a situation as a whole because they perceive its meaning in terms of long-term goals. The Proficient nurse learns from experience what typical events to expect in a given situation and how plans need to be modified in response to these events. The Proficient nurse can now recognise when the expected normal picture does not materialise. This holistic understanding improves the Proficient nurse's decision making; it becomes less laboured because the nurse now has a perspective on which of the many existing attributes and aspects in the present situation are the important ones. Stage 5: The Expert
The Expert nurse has an intuitive grasp of each situation and zeroes in on the accurate region of the problem without wasteful consideration of a large range of unfruitful, alternative diagnoses and solutions. The Expert operates from a deep understanding of the total situation. His/her performance becomes...