Learning Statement Reflecting Students Development of own Assesment Practice
The development of a reflective practice, self evaluation, professional growth and approaches to therapeutic interventions depends largely on our understanding of adult learning styles. Different people have different learning styles as shown by the Honey and Mumford and VAK questionnaires. Having this knowledge as I took a student on placement enabled me to understand her learning needs and to plan our working and learning relationship collaboratively. The key assumptions of adult learning (andragogy) that informed my supervision of learner D were:
- Adults need to know the reason for learning.
- Adults draw upon their experience to aid learning.
- Adults need to be responsible for their decision on education, involvement in planning and evaluation of their practice.
- As an adult learns new knowledge, she wants to apply it immediately in problem solving.
- The learning readiness of adults is related to the assumptions of new social roles.
The learner and I understood why we had to undertake the learning process during supervision. We both learnt through doing and problem solving. Consequently, the learner made tremendous progress in her practice because she evidenced that learning had occurred. On reflection, I can conclude that our learning and working relationship encompassed aspects of coaching, mentoring, teaching, guidance and counseling.
Our learning relationship enabled me to visualize learning as a double edged sword. It cut both the learner and the supervisor, shaping and carving both of them into the desired shape. Learning occurred because we exchanged ideas. Coaching took place as the learner shadowed and followed the example of others. Mentoring occurred because of the support and guidance I gave to the learner on a regular basis.
In this paper, the reflective practice, the practical application of adult learning theories and their impact on the service users, the learner and the supervisor are considered. The ground rules and the learning agreement enabled the learner and the practice educator to be committed to one another and to the learning and working relationship. Learning enables the acquisition of knowledge that makes us better practitioners and problem solvers for our society. The way we perceive our environment informs our learning. Prior experience is significant in how we interpret and respond to stimuli in our learning environment.
The learner and I understood from adult learning theories that every experience is an opportunity for learning. The ability of learners to take up and benefit from a learning opportunity is influenced by: their prior experiences of being learners including what enhanced or hindered learning, the working and learning relationship with the practice educator as a facilitator of learning, their academic ability and their level of self awareness. On advice from me, the learner was able to individualize the application of social work theories and principles on a case by case basis without a blanket generalization. Each case was considered on its own merit and appropriate interventions made accordingly.
Kadushin’s (1992) model of supervision aided me to balance our working and learning relationship with learner D. I understood that supervision should achieve the following functions: Administrative function – the promotion and maintenance of good work standards, coordination of practice with policies of administration and the assurance of a smooth running office. I made arrangements for the learner’s induction and orientation with the care team. The learner was exposed to all the things that she required to make her placement successful. Both the learner and I understood that the primary goal of the administrative function is concerned with the correct, effective and appropriate implementation of agency policies and procedures.
Educational function – Educational development calculated to evoke full potential of learner. We understood that a person cannot know everything and that ignorance or ineptitude regarding knowledge, attitude and skills of social work could impact negatively on social work practice and had to be dealt with through continuous learning. The primary goal is to dispel ignorance and upgrade skills. I further understood the need to constantly reflect on and explore my practice and my supervision. The educational function aided the learner and I to understand our service users better, caused us to be increasingly aware of our own reactions and responses to the service users, team colleagues and to one another. I was able to examine how the learner and I intervened and the consequences of our interventions on third parties.
Supportive- Maintenance of a harmonious working relationship and the cultivation of team spirit. From the very beginning, I was very keen on the learner’s morale and job satisfaction. I sought to improve this through deliberate empowerment and continuous support. The learner faced a lot of work related challenges which could have affected her work and led to an unsatisfactory work to clients if she had not been helped to deal with them. I was able to handle my responsibilities as a practice educator in a more supportive manner as a result of this awareness.
The functional model of a task centered Practice (TCP) became the plank on which a practice learning session was conducted. The learner’s strengths and learning style were utilized in this process. We jointly crafted an intervention based on the stages outlined in the TCP model for one of the cases that learner D was handling. This aided the learner to link social work theory to real life experience. Consequently, the learner got to appreciate the need to apply theory to case work and practice. We had a successful and fruitful working and learning relationship that enriched our knowledge and social work practice. The learning agreement enabled us to focus on the goals, requirements and roles of each of the concerned parties. It becomes easy to avoid conflict when roles and boundaries are so clearly defined. The learner’s confidence was boosted on the attainment of her objectives.
A practice education role is a learning experience for both the practice educator and the learner. The development of a good learning relationship benefits both the practice educator and the learner. The learner makes progress to the next level of education or proceeds to get employed. On reflection, the experience of supervising D has made me more confident and enabled me to realize my full potential. I am willing to take up the supervision of other learners on placement despite the heavy case loads. Learner D was overall an enthusiastic and eager learner. The learning relationship impacted her positively. The implication is that she will be a good practitioner of social when she formally embarks on her practice.
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