The purpose of this essay is to present the need of a learning contract in a working environment. A learning contract will be provided and plans of action formulated in order to achieve the learner’s objectives. I will be discussing how I was able to assess the learning needs of my learner.
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I conducted an interview with my learner to assess how she feels working in the unit and to identify her learning needs, and what she identifies as her strengths in terms of her knowledge and skills. We did this on our first meeting as it is quite important to ascertain where we stand and where we will start as mentor and learner. According to Gopee (2008), assessment of professional knowledge and competence is essential to identify subsequent learning needs and would imply being supportive to the learner. Nicklin and Kenworthy (2000) define assessment as a measurement that directly relates to the quality and quantity of learning and is therefore, concerned with students’ progress and attainment. It is for this purpose that assessment of my learner’s current knowledge and awareness of her areas of further learning was conducted to suggest progress and identify those areas that needed to be improved. I think it is of extreme importance to note what the learner knows so we can make further plans for the objectives. I also feel that I have allowed the learner to conduct a self-assessment which will enable her to own the learning and to control the way she meets her needs (Gopee, 2008).
A learning contract has been agreed between me and my learner. We have identified objectives together, and we have formulated plans of action how to achieve these objectives. The use of the learning contracts was advocated by Knowles et al (1998) in the context of adult learners needing to exercise some self-direction in their learning. According to Gopee (2008) learning objectives affords the learner some control over their learning, stimulates their motivation to learn and to engage with the learning experience and therefore, gives them the self confidence and sense of empowerment. The benefits of the learning contracts have been reported by Ghazi and Henshaw (1998), who found that learning contracts help the learner’s performance in assessments. There are, however, mixed views among authors about whether learning contracts are legally binding. Neary (2000a) argues that they are not but Mazhindu (1990) suggests that they are legally binding. It is useful to note that NMC (2005a) has stressed their stance on good record keeping, and written records can be used as evidence of actions taken or omitted. It is for this purpose that I have kept a written diary was made in agreement with the learner. This enables us to go back where we think we have done right or wrong. This helps in evaluating what we have achieved or what we have to achieve. Overall, I do think learning contracts are of vital importance in a mentor -learner relationship, as I think this gives both the mentor and learner an idea of what each other expects to make sure they achieve the objectives that were set.
Gopee, N. (2000) ‘Self-assessment and the concept of the lifelong learning nurse’, British Journal of Nursing, 9 (11): 724-9.
Knowles, M., Holton III, E.F. and Swanson, R.A. (1998) The Adult Learner (5th edn). Woburn (USA), Butterworth-Heinemann.
Neary, M. (2000a) Teaching, Assessing and Evaluation for Clinical Competence. Cheltenham: Stanley Thornes.
Nicklin, P. and Kenworthy, N. (eds) (2000) Teaching and Assessing in Nursing
Practice: An Experiential Approach (3rd edn). London: Bailliere Tindall.
Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) (2005a) Guidelines for Records and Record-keeping. London: NMC.
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