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This essay aims to critically review my strengths and weaknesses as a self-regulated learner, in relation to key skills which demonstrate my ability to use reflective practice. Also, the essay will identify and implement the learning skills required to complete the modules in Year 2 of the programme. It will produce and make use of individual learning plans that reflect how I could improve upon my interpersonal skills and implement a personal development plan. Furthermore, a demonstration of application of key skills together with learning and interpersonal skills in a variety of settings will be made.
The framework this reflective essay will follow has been adapted from the work of Borton (1970) Reach, Teach and Touch; along with Boud et al (1985) Turning Experience into Learning. A reflective essay is a piece of writing that basically involves your views and feelings about a particular subject. The goal of a reflective essay is to not only discuss what you learned, but to convey the personal experiences and findings that have resulted, Spinello (2012).
However in order to critically evaluate and reflect the individual, must become a self-regulated learner.
Students who are self-regulated learners collaborate with other students in exchanging ideas, eliciting assistance when needed, and providing support to their peers. They see the connection between their efforts and learning success, Trejos (2010). Zimmerman (2000) points out that, self-regulation is not a mental ability or an academic performance skill; rather it is the self-directive process by which learners transform their mental abilities into academic skills.
These learners will monitor their behaviors in terms of their goals and self-reflect in order to increase their effectiveness.
Self-regulation is important because a major function of education is the development of life-long learning skills, Zimmerman (2002, p. 66). In relation to the following key skills of, communication, numeracy, use of information technology, learning to learn and working with others, I have been able to identify my strengths and weaknesses.
One of the areas in which I considered to be competent in was written communication, as I could express myself more openly and creatively, this has been evident by the use blackboard discussions, emails and academic writing. Linked to this, my IT skills are also one of my biggest strengths, as I am able to utilize these skills to support and further develop communication, interpersonal and academic skills. My empathetic listening skill enables me to gain mutual understanding and supports me to work with others, where new knowledge and experience can be exchanged, which contribute to my ongoing learning.
On the other hand, the identified areas that I need improvement in are my confidence in verbal communication, although one to one communication is not a problem, but communicating and presenting to larger groups is where I feel nervous. Building up confidence in this area is vital, as it is a key component of nursing practice, to ensure effective communication between patients, team members and multidisciplinary teams. From year one of the nursing programme to year two; I have seen an improvement in my general math’s skill, however I required further practice in this area, which will supported me to pass my drugs calculation exam for year 2.
Additionally, exam preparation and revision techniques were another area which I needed to work on, as a result it facilitated towards preparing me for module 6 – immediate and continuing care examination. Last but not least, my academic writing skills which also required to be developed so that I would be able to produce work at level 5 standard, for additional module two – examining health and social care needs of vulnerable adults and module five - understanding evidence-based nursing.
Once I identified my strengths and weaknesses, I was able to set three goals for the academic year and produce an action plan for each goal, which was implemented in a personal development plan. A personal development plan is described as “a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and/or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development”, (LMU, 2001). The three chosen goals for year 2 of my nursing programme were specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely (S.M. A. R. T).
Goal one, was set out to help me become competent in critically appraising evidence and literature, which supports the learning skills of being able to produce academic work at level 5 standards. This goal required gaining understanding and knowledge of critical appraisal, as well as thoroughly comprehending the elements of critical appraisal and correctly identifying and using tool, frameworks and guidelines to critically appraise evidence and literature.
The significance of achieving this goal was to help me complete year 2 modules of understanding evidence-based nursing and examining health and social care needs of vulnerable adults and achieving an overall good grade in both modules. What I generally thought was, for the understanding evidence based nursing essay I did not perform well with my critical appraisal, as most of my time was spent on formulating a PICO question and did not have sufficient time to write a powerful essay.
However results showed that I gained an overall 55% mark, and comments that were given by the moderator were as follows ‘Critical appraisal - You have identified the framework and the article for critical appraisal. In this part you have detailed the research process as reported in the article; although you have attempted to analyse the research validity and reliability but they should have been further developed. You should have critically analysed the quantitative research rigor - validity, reliability and generalisability of the study findings supported with relevant literature’.
So the importance of having constructive feedback is to make sure that I know which areas that I am potent in and which areas that I need to improve for the next essay, in order for me to critically appraise more coherently. As a result of this, for my examining health and social care needs of vulnerable adults module essay; which also involved critically appraising three research articles, I received an overall mark of 66%. The moderator’s comments for analysis and synthesis were that ‘You have made a good critique of the limitations of the studies.
’ And the quality of expression was indicated as ‘generally good. ’ Now I feel more confident in my critical appraisal skills, I believe with further practice I will be able to appraise articles and gain higher marks to help me progress on to year three. Goal two was aimed at preparing and passing module 6 – immediate and continuing care unseen examination, based on three patient journeys of diabetes, coronary heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. This goal was linked to learning skills of exam preparation and revision techniques.
The steps that were taken in achieving this goal were to create a revision timetable to manage time; to use different revision and rehearsal techniques i. e. flow charts, mind-maps, revision cards, rehearsing exam papers in timed condition and having a study buddy. Combined with this, whilst reading literature and gathering information, I collected relevant references to create a reference list for the examination. What I thought was the daunting part of this goal was practicing exam papers in timed condition, as three hours seemed like a long time.
What was interesting is that once I had all the suitable materials and information and began to do a timed essay, three hours seemed shorter than expected; with continuous practice this helped me to pick up my writing speed and also managing time per essay. With the use of mind maps and flow charts I was able to access information quick and easy, rather than going back to textbooks and online resources. Having prepared in this way prior to the exam made me feel confident and relaxed and I was able to manage my time efficiently.
So the significance of preparing ahead is that it helps me to become proactive; managing time helps me to prioritise what is important and what needs to be attended in sequence. And using relevant resources is essential for learning success and achievement. Now I feel that I have generally performed well in my exam, as much of what I revised came up and I was prepared. Although time felt like an issue, I was able to use my time productively and efficiently. What I think I could improve for next time, is begin planning and revision sooner and rehearse more timed essay as practice makes perfect.
Additionally, what I have learnt throughout this module I will be able to apply to clinical practice, and as an individual be prepared and have the ability to act accordingly when foreseen and unforeseen circumstances arise. Goal three demonstrates my ability to use my existing general maths skills with further practise, to pass drugs calculation examination for year 2. For this goal, the steps that were taken in order to achieve the goals were to use Authentic World (SafeMedicate) to revise for the exam, to do online mock exams in timed condition, and revise on general maths skills.
What I didn’t realise was that the drugs examination was compulsory for every year throughout the nursing degree programme. However, as I had already passed my year one drugs calculation exam with full marks of 90/90, I didn’t find year two to be too difficult as it was on three areas from the previous year of tablets & capsules, liquid medication and Injections. I found that accessing authentic world and revising the areas and completing the mock exams were easily within the comfort of home.
I was able to revise where I wanted and when I wanted, support was available from other maths revision sites. So after revising the key areas and doing timed questions, I felt confident in sitting the actual exam. I completed the exam within the time limit, reviewed my questions and answer and received my final mark of 90/90 on first attempt, which I was very pleased with. Now that I have achieved full marks on my first attempt I am able use this knowledge of drug management to aid my drugs administrative skills whilst on second year placement.
What I will aim to do for year three drugs calculation exam is to refresh and revise over previous areas, and also read ahead on the additional section that will be added to year three exam. On achievement of these three developmental goal, I have been able to make connection between the learning and interpersonal skills to a variety of settings. From goal one I understand being able to critically appraise in nursing practice means that patients can benefit from the best possible outcome with backup from reliable and valid researches that have been carried out.
Thus, as a healthcare professional I am able to gain knowledge to ensure and/or provide effective and dynamic care. From goal two of understanding long-term illness of coronary heart disease, diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis from journeys of simulation patients. I have been able to prepare myself to have knowledge and have the ability to cooperate in a situation where I will work with real patients with these types of conditions.
Long-term illnesses and conditions affects vast majority of the population and therefore keeping knowledge update is an essential way to promote health and provide information to others. With support from goal three of safely calculating drug dosages for supporting drug administrative skills, is essential part of nurse training. To ensure that the right patients receive the right dose of the right medication, at the right time, through the right route, as drug errors can be fatal to the outcomes of the patient.
In conclusion, this module has helped me to develop from being an independent learner to a self-regulated learner. Where I am able to identify my strengths and weaknesses in relations to key skills; and critique my competency and incompetency towards creating goals, and reflect upon the process in achieving these goals. Overall for year two of this programme I have achieved my set goals, and I have developed the ability to use key skills along with learning and interpersonal skills in providing best judgement in different settings.
References: Borton, T (1970) Reach, Teach and Touch. McGraw Hill, London Boud D, Keogh R & Walker D. (1985) Reflection: Turning Experience into Learning. Kogan Page, London. London Metropolitan University (LMU) (2001) Personal development planning (Online) available at: www. londonmet. ac. uk/library/z62053_24. doc. [Accessed last: 11 January 2012] Spinello, S. (2012) what is a reflective essay? (Online) available at: http://www. ehow. com/about_4576779_reflective-essay-paper_. html. [Accessed: 09 February 2012] Trejos, C. M. A.
(2008) Using journals for learners’ reflection and self-assessment. The internet TESL journal. 14 (10). (Online) available at: http://iteslj. org/Techniques/Arciniegas-LearnersJournals. html. [Accessed last: 10 February 2012] Zimmerman, B. J. (2000). Attainment of self-regulation: A social cognitive perspective. In M. Boekaerts, P. R. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds. ), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 13-39). San Diego, CA: AcademicPress. Zimmerman, B. J. (2002). Becoming a self-regulated learner: an overview. Theory into practice, 41 (2), p. 64-70.
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