Facilitating Reflective Learning in Students: Understanding the Role of the Nurse Educator

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 8:50 AM

Peggy K. Naicker, MA (HlthSc), AdvDipNursEd, DipICU, BSoc (Nur), RN, CCRN
School of Health Sciences, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa
Gisela H. Van Rensburg, DLittetPhil, MACur, BACur (Hons), BACur, RN, RM, RCN, RPN
Department of Health Studies, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa

Modern healthcare is characterised by frequent change, high turnover of patients, various disease profiles and treatment modalities as well as limited staffing and resources available.  The nursing professional practicing in this environment has to be flexible, resilient and dynamic to remain competent and provide quality nursing care. Current literature supports the use of reflection by nursing professionals to help them adopt, adapt and align practices. A quantitative, explorative, descriptive study was conducted in nursing education institutions in one of the nine provinces in South Africa. A total of 121 nurse educators completed a structured questionnaire. The findings revealed that, although nurse educators agree with the importance of reflective practices in the teaching and learning environment they do not necessarily place emphasis on developing their own reflective practices.  Reflective learning was not identified as a formal learning approach in the programmes the nurse educators facilitated but the educators did attempt to include reflection in the teaching and learning activities planned. Not enough emphasis is placed on the creation of a teaching and learning environment that will enhance reflection in a non-threatening context. The deeper understanding of reflective learning comes with continued personal reflective practices. Nurse educators should be taught how to facilitate reflective learning activities and how to create an environment conducive to reflection. Through reflective teaching practices students could be supported in developing into critical thinkers hence reflective learning should be a formal teaching and learning approach in nursing curricula.