Child nursing staff Ilana Pressick Cycle 2 observation reflection

Observation- going from good to great!

The Process:

Cycle One inspired, developed and facilitated my growth as a teacher.  This learning did not only extend to us as participants but to the process itself.  Changes we incorporated in cycle two as a result of cycle one included:

  1. A clear time line. We ensured that our pre-observation meeting, observations and post-observation meetings all happened within a weeks’ time.  The reflections were then due within a week from our final reflective meeting.
  2. A clear focus on students learning.

In contrast to Cycle One and I guess as a result of Cycle One I had no anxieties or feelings of apprehension when I commenced this cycle.  The difference in my emotional response between the two cycles were very significant to me. Just muttering the words observation used to make my heart race, fill me with anxiety and unable to breathe.  I was unable to disassociate observation and assessment.  Now that I have experienced and seen what a powerful tool observation can truly be I could not help but feel excited and curious about the new discoveries to be made during Cycle Two.

Being the Observer:

I was only supposed to observe Nathalie for the first half of her session.  I found the topic thought provoking and very interesting so I ended up staying for the whole session.  I felt comfortable and confident in my ability to be an observer. I always like sitting amongst the students, having the space and time to view learning through a different lens. I absorb the environment, the physical space around me and the people around me.  Then I analyse how all these factors influence and impacts learning.

My development and growth as a teacher was heavily influence by being the observer during cycle one and once again during cycle two.  In part I think this could be due to the fact that Nathalie is a very experienced lecturer. I feel like a sponge absorbing teaching techniques she uses whilst gently being reminded of small changes to my practice that I should make in order to continue to strives for excellence in my teaching.  During her session I was reminded of the importance to speak clearly so that your voice projects over the background hissing and whirring of the air-conditioner. Repeating answers that students give when asked a question, this is because students speak quietly and cannot be heard in all four corners of the room but also it demonstrates good communication techniques to the students.  Keeping the students engaged by walking around the classroom, keeping the students’ attention, telling a story instead of reading from the PowerPoint, these are small techniques used and when combined makes a big difference to the learning experience of the students.  Using a varied delivery method by incorporating a few slides, followed by a video that brings the theory to life, and then having a classroom discussion about the topic also made the topic easier to relate to thus created an environment whereby students wanted to find out more about the topic.

I did not anticipate when I commenced this study the positively powerful impact being an observer would have on my development and understanding of teaching.

Being observed:

I think having someone observe you teaching will always provoke some level of uncomfortable self-awareness.  However, due to the nature of this observational cycle I was more relaxed and able teach the way I would normally, without Nathalie’s presence effecting how I deliver my session.

For my session I continued my exploration about gamification and incorporated feedback and learning points from cycle one.  I facilitated a board game, whereby students had to answer questions in relation to the subject topic.  We had mini discussions throughout the game about the questions being asked.  After the game I presented a very short PowerPoint with only three slides and a video.  The students were finally presented with a scenario and based on their pre-existing knowledge and knowledge gained from the session they had to answer the questions and present the answers to each other.  Nathalie observed the latter halve of the session involving the scenario.

Peer meeting:

Apart from the knowledge I gained from observing Nathalie I gained confidence in my ability to have a reflective coaching session with a colleague.  Discussing teaching and learning with a colleague, having the space and time to stop, think and explore element of our teaching is valuable but also a necessity for further development and growth.  It requires an honest, open and non-judgemental approach in order to be constructive.  The peer meeting provided a platform to explore our teaching and overcome barriers we face such as increasing student numbers and environmental factors.  For me it definitely increased my self-awareness around teaching and gave me the space to explore ways my session could be utilised for larger cohort students.  It also made me feel valued having my opinions and suggestions heard and appreciated. For these reasons alone, this collaborative observation cycle is already uniquely positive and innovative.

Collaborative meeting:

We had a thought provoking collaborative meeting.  Students had a clear focus for each of our sessions with an underpinning focus on their own learning.  Clear themes emerged from our discussions with similarities and differences apparent for both students.  Discussions with students about their learning gave us as lecturers a greater insight into students learning and how our teaching practices and environmental factors influence learning.  For me personally the meeting left me feeling intrigued and fascinated by the students’ change in their perceptions of their own learning and their increased self-awareness of their learning process.

The students were able to identify which activities were optimum for their learning, when they had ‘light bulb’ moments and how these moments will impact on their practice as student nurses.  The ‘light bulb’ moments made it abundantly clear that learning occurs not only when students are being taught but also whilst having peer discussions and listening to classroom feedback from other students.  This seemed to be a real moment of self-actualisation for students, whereby the key to learning gets unlocked and they realised that learning occurs in many different ways and is a constant conscious and subconscious process. The students also successfully managed to learn from this experience and were able to identify when teaching styles, room environments and even peers were disadvantageous to their learning. This is where it becomes interesting, as a result of becoming more self-aware about their own learning they then changed their behaviour as students, repositioned themselves in the classroom in order to be closer to the front, in the middle and away from distracting peers enabling them to learn despite other perceived obstacles such as learning environment and teaching styles used.

Discussing students learning increased my knowledge about different approached to learning and teaching but also what teaching activities enable and promote learning.  From having these conversations combined with knowledge from cycle one I have come to the realisation that groups discussions are essential to learning.  Building of pre-existing knowledge will be aided if we can enable students by recognising their knowledge.  Most importantlyit verified to me that improving student learning requires teachers and learners to co-construct a shared awareness and understanding about learning collaboratively.

Conclusion:

It is evident from my experience and our discussions with students that this observational cycle is beneficial to all involved in the process.  Participating in the process has impacted my teaching on a practical level as I will make changes to what I do in the classroom and how I do it.  More importantly I’ve gained a deeper shared understanding about learning and teaching as a result of the collaborative meetings with the students.  This observation unlocked the potential for us to understand our students and thereby allowing us to meet their learning needs on a deeper level.  However, learning still does depend on the students’ willingness to participate in the process.  By allowing students to become more aware of their own learning as a result of their participation in observation, consequently led to them being empowering to overcome self-identified barriers and leading to a better and more satisfactory teaching and learning experience for all.

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Adult nursing staff Stephanie Reynolds Cycle 2 observation reflection

Description

▪ I think the big thing for me was that the silence was very uncomfortable!!
▪ The teaching style of this session being observed was with class simulations. It was intended to be an opportunity for students to have a go at health promotion. My role as the lecturer within this session was to facilitate simulations with an actress (also a lecturer) in 3 scenarios.
▪ I had asked that I could be observed specifically on my facilitation skills, and the making of a safe environment for which students could learn, owing to the unusually large class size for this type of learning.
▪ I asked for volunteers yet contrary to previous sessions done this way, it seemed uncomfortable that no one volunteered and the silence seemed to be palpable.

Feelings
1. I felt uncomfortable that I might have put students into too much of a challenging situation, making them feel conscious of their performance in front of many class mates.

2. I was aware at one point of leaving out one side of the room because of where the podium was, so I decided to stand the other side, something I may have not been aware of was I not being observed, and having observed others knowing what sort of things come up.

Analysis 
Was it me or the students?
I compared to the session the day before where there were many willing volunteers. I hadn’t changed any style of teaching or circumstance, and I had made the statement of the safe environment, and that there is no right or wrong answer to giving health promotion. It was noted however prior to the session in a small group chat that there was a ripple of dissatisfaction from students who didn’t feel this style of learning was appropriate particularly in a large setting. There was still some confusion over this being their learning experience as opposed to having the skills or knowledge to do the job, and maybe lack of confidence was displayed in defensiveness.

How did I manage the silence?
I wanted volunteers not to pick on people, and thankfully I didn’t have to pick on people, but silence although uncomfortable seemed to be the best option, and I was keen not to let that silence be shown as uncomfortable to me, as though to apologise for putting them in this situation, knowing that my intentions are to support and help them, not make their lives difficult. After the session I used the ‘5 Whys’of root cause analysis to challenge my feelings here….

  1. Why did I feel the silence was uncomfortable? – Because it felt like I was trying to create an atmosphere of learning that was contrary to the feeling in the room
  2. Why was there an atmosphere in the room? – Because the students felt challenged.
  3. Why did the students feel challenged?  Because I was offering learning outside of their comfort Zone?
  4. Why was I offering learning outside there comfort zone?  – Because I am passionate about their learning – particularly of this subject.
  5. Why am I passionate about their learning in this subject? – Because I have rarely seen it done properly or at all by students/staff nurses in practice, in that I’m not sure it is even featured even though it is very important.

Evaluation – What was good/bad about the experience?

I reflected on my ability to draw out learning from students in a reflective way however an internal frustration was that with one particular scenario the students were missing the point on health promotion with Doris, in that they were going down the assessment route. My reflection on debriefing however was although I was tempted to I didn’t give answers, but promoted reflection.

My actions and management of those who took part was to reward them (with a chocolate) but also debriefing them in a positive way, starting by what they thought they did well, asking their class mates what they thought went well in order to encourage safe peer learning.  I also referred back to health promotion model, affirmed them and paraphrased.
I encouraged the problem solving approach by encouraging those who were questioning what they should do to actually have a go at interacting with the character.

There were some excellent interactions from students that exceeded expectation.  Students drew upon learning from other sessions and modules such as Self Harm and Sexual health.

Students learnt a lot about themselves either from participating or observing others, and the silence helped them review their anxieties.

Conclusion and Action Plan
Should I still ask for volunteers or pick on people? I think I will still go with the voluntary model as I have proved, despite silence there are ways of getting people to interact without the threat of being picked upon.
I will demonstrate giving health promotion and interact with a scenario to show that there are just simple skills needed in order to achieve Health promotion and also set the scene, which may also help with fostering that Safe learning environment.

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Adult nursing student Jabar Hussain Cycle 2 observation reflection

This cycle was more organised than the previous model where we were required to observe the lecturer in the ways and techniques of delivering a lecture session. This cycle we manly prioritised on our own emotions and feelings giving a report on the overall perception. It is a lot more effective for me to reflect on my own learning experience rather than criticise another individual on their performance. I felt that this cycle was more constructive to the previous. I would reflect on my knowledge, behaviour and feelings on my involvement and interaction with the lecture content.

Unfortunately, sickness has its restrictions and mine was that I had missed my 2ndobservation on Stephanie due to it. However, I liaised with my colleague and got updated on how the session went and if there was anything that he felt he needed to discuss.

I wanted to acknowledge my learning style and what I find helps and improves long-term memory. I have sat in on lectures where the lecturer reads from the screen of a Moodle tile, that I am also looking at and reading and I feel that this is an ineffective style of learning for me. Moodle is still a confusing area and I feel it needs to be made easier to access and locate information. I like to be involved in the sessions and enjoy brain activity stimulating exercises. I think students like myself would benefit from previous session reflections. Lecturers could allow students 10 to 15 minutes to participate in previous lesson review. I found that this type of technique beneficial and felt if this is applied throughout the course, students like me would appreciate the course structure in promoting learning.

Placing peers amongst other colleagues that they would not normally choose to work alongside can also be effective, since the sharing of a perspective can only add more knowledge to the chosen subject area. However, this can also have a negative effect as it can potentially restrict the interaction of some students when they are placed outside their comfort zone. Students normally only associate their study space amongst their friends and continue to associate with their friends. This session had no disturbances from other students, the class was very observant and participated well with the lecturer’s instructions.

The previous cycle had addressed the issue of how the environment can affect student learning, however this session had no disheartening conditions. The class was well populated with a mixture of adult ages. I usually tend to get along with adults more towards the middle age then the young ones since lecture attention criteria is paramount and I tactically seat myself among where I would find less distraction.

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Child nursing student Stacy Rogers Cycle 2 observation reflection

For cycle 2 we were asked to look more at our own learning, and how this is enhanced by the lecturers teaching.

We first had a meeting with the lecturers to discuss which part of the lesson they would like us to observe and concentrate on.

Natalie’s lecture was around assisted conception, and the impact and implications this may have on people, we were asked to assess our learning and observe the lesson after a video, and to see if it raised an awareness for us, and if it did not why not.

During the session, the room was cold and there seemed to be a lot of chatter at times, which I found distracting and off putting and unable to concentrate properly when this was happening. The lecture itself consisted of power point, video’s and the lecturer talking, normally for me this type of session I find hard to follow and take in all the information, but due to the nature of the topic and the powerful message being portrayed especially through the video’s I was more willing to listen and it held my interest. I did find for my learning that the session did not have as much group work and interaction as I like, but during the session the lecturer used good humour to help with a very sensitive area, making the realisation that you do not always know what others are going through, and to not make flippant comments, as they could easily offend, and felt that this thinking could also be taken to practise and used in other situations.

For Ilana’s lecture we were looking at sepsis, this was done in a small group and a board game was used for the lesson. We were asked to play the game and document any ‘wow’ moments we may have.

Before going into this lecture, I was nervous as knew we were a small group and was worried that I didn’t have enough knowledge to be able to play the game and answer the questions, and being in a small group I would not be able to blend into the background, and I was also nervous about having the lecturer in such proximity. Once we started playing, I very quickly realised I did have some knowledge and needed to believe in myself more, and due to working with the lecturer as my partner, this pushed me to try to answer the questions before the lecturer as best as I could out of my comfort zone, as I felt she would know the answers, but during this session I realised that not everyone knows everything and we all learnt new things during the game. During the session, my ‘wow’ moments included finding out the severity of sepsis, and the importance of fluid balance in relation to it. Also during the session, I realised that I learn more and engage more when in groups, and I work well when discussing with others, as this either reinforces my knowledge or adds to it, from this session I now feel more confident in myself and feel I can speak out when asked a question and it is ok to be wrong, but learn from it.

Through both sessions I found my learning style could adapt to each situation, but feel I’m more comfortable during group work and discussions especially with my own friends group – it encourages me to answer and give my views more whereas in a larger group I worry about getting an answer incorrect. Through this process I know that I learn more through doing, which became more evident during Ilana’s session. During all this I have also learnt I need to have more confidence in my own knowledge and that it is ok to be wrong, it is all part of a learning process.

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Child nursing student Aneesa Bibi Cycle 2 observation reflection

The opportunity to get involved with this project was emailed to the whole child nursing course, which I took advantage of. To begin with I did not know exactly what it entailed however after a general meeting with Vanessa, I understood better that it was a project to analyse my own learning through teaching styles. I initially got involved to improve my reflection skills and liked the idea of working alongside lecturers collaboratively rather than a teacher/student relationship.

For the first part of the research project I met with Vanessa and Stacy to discuss what was expected in terms of the observation and how it was going to be planned out and reflected. This meeting gave me an insight in what was expected of me. Stacy and I then met with Ilana and Nathalie to discuss what their sessions are based on and what they wanted us to observe and reflect upon.

For Nathalie’s session she wanted us to focus on observing our learning after a video. She wanted us to identify if we learnt anything new in her session. Similarly, Ilana wanted us to focus on any ‘Light bulb’ moments in her session, and moments where the teaching linked together. Both Ilana and Nathalie wanted me to focus more on my learning and what lecturers have done to aid this.

The first observation was with Nathalie, a lecture on assisted conception. The classroom this lecture was taught in was a rectangular shape with two screens for the PowerPoint. I was positioned in the far-right corner of the classroom.  The lecture was a PowerPoint session combined with video’s and regular group discussions in between.

I thoroughly enjoyed the video on assisted conception as it was something I have always heard about but never seen done. I find interactive learning always works best for me as I am more of a practical person and learn best by doing or seeing rather than listening about it. This video helped me remain engaged as it was very informative. Nathalie’s delivery was loud and concise despite me being on a disruptive table. Observing my learning as part of this project and consequently identifying barriers to my learning such as the disruptive table I sat at made me reconsider my position when going into a learning environment. Additionally, Nathalie was moving around, and I find it easier to focus on a moving lecturer as I find following their movement keeps me focussed on them and their teaching.

Furthermore, Nathalie presented definitions and statistics which helped me bring the topic to life as with statistics I feel it becomes more realistic. Similarly, Nathalie was involving the classroom by asking questions, this engaged me as I didn’t know more than one answer and by having a classroom discussion it helped me gain knowledge.  This enabled me to realise learning from peers is also effective in my learning process. On the other hand, I do feel at times during this learning process I was becoming disengaged as there was a lot of verbal communication which allowed me to get disrupted over time, however I engaged again when I heard laughter or student – teacher interaction. I feel my position at the far-right side of the classroom was not effective for my learning as I was losing concentration at times and at times lost sight of the lecturer.  As I reflect on this process I’ve realised I can quickly lose concentration if I’m not directly involved or challenged however I also understand this can be difficult at times depending on different factors such as the number of students or the learning content. I also realised that I have a responsibility towards my own learning and by identifying barriers to my learning I can now overcome these by making changes such as where I position myself in the classroom and peers I sit with.

The second observation was with Ilana. This observation was around a sepsis game followed by a video and group work to conclude. This learning style is most suited for me as I learn best by interaction, so I was looking forward to this game. Before attending this session, I was a bit scared doubting my knowledge around sepsis. I was trying to remember what I knew and didn’t want to make a fool out of myself by answering a question wrong. As the game progressed I was surprised at how much I remember from previous knowledge, which made me realise that doubt overtook my confidence. This enhanced my learning style as it made me deeply consider how I allow myself to think I don’t know something, when I do know it thereby the need to challenge my own knowledge. Also being able to identify my pre-existing knowledge I can better build on this knowledge and learn more complex matters.

During the game there were many statistics which shocked me, this was a ‘lightbulb’ moment for me as I didn’t realise how serious sepsis was and didn’t realise how detrimental it can become. The statistics allowed me to visualise the reality of the issue and relate it to my nursing practice in future, making sure I always think about it. Moreover, I feel the video was brilliant after the game, as it linked most of the questions revised and explained them in depth.The change in activity from the game to the video helped me store the information I received during the game and helped me link everything together. Lastly, we did some groupwork to conclude, this was positive as once again it challenged what I had learnt and helped my confidence through learning. I was unsure of a term which I asked about and this led to a positive impact as Ilana did not realise that some terminology isn’t understood. This also made me realise that no question is a silly question and if I don’t know something, the confidence to approach this may help others learning as well as increase my own learning experience.

I commenced this study with preconceived ideas about how I learn and do not learn.  As a result of this process I am now aware that learning occurs because of a multitude of combinations. Overall this learning cycle has taught me a lot, it has shown me that I can achieve what I want by making small changes such as: Considering where is sit in the classroom because this impacts on my concentration; How much I interact in a session because this keeps me engaged; Having more confidence in my own knowledge because then I can build on this knowledge.  I have also become more self-aware and realised I learn in many ways such as peer discussions, games, PowerPoint, and verbal communication.

This reflective cycle has enabled me as a student to work in collaboration with Ilana and Nathalie whereby we were all equal participants in research. This relationship has given me an incomparable insight into how much preparation and time goes into teaching and has encouraged me to make the most out of the lectures within my future studies. I now have a better understanding on how I can benefit from different methods of teaching and will continue to enhance my own learning through the techniques picked up throughout this project. I plan to take this experience forward in my future by carefully planning how I learn best and applying this to my learning. I have become more aware of my surroundings and know I can encourage my learning through my own actions.

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Radiotherapy student researcher Katie Winfield observation cycle 2 reflection

I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in the student researcher cycle again this year. After the intriguing findings we established after last year’s cycle, it was interesting to compare the conclusions I have made between each half of the project. The first cycle my colleagues and I were focussing on the teaching style, techniques and delivery of our lecturers and how this engaged the students; this cycle we were focusing on the students, how they interacted with one another, with the lecturer and the lecture content.

Much like the previous cycle, we underwent a workshop on how to observe these lectures and techniques to undertake to ensure we do not impose on our learning. Prior to the observations, we met up with our lecturers to discuss what it was they would like to find out, their methods of ensuring engagement between staff to pupil and pupil to pupil. Our lectures already had concerns about our cohort interacting effectively with one another, and the observations enforced that. The lecture we were observing of Nick’s module was a PowerPoint lead anatomy lecture; Mark’s lecture was a VERT interactive support towards our planning module presentations.

It was fascinating the details you notice when looking across your peers and reflecting their techniques of learning or engaging compared to my own. As I recorded in my notes, it was common for some students to not take many lecture notes, or if they did, it was notes from the PowerPoint which would waste time as the PowerPoints are made available to us all online. Perhaps this technique helped them remember the content better; however Nick would be saying vital information that was not included on the PowerPoint which those students were missing out on. I found I would take notes on everything Nick says and nothing that is on the PowerPoint until I come round to revision; I have concluded that I am also a very independent student as I do not tend to revise or work in groups, or ask my peers many questions.

Also, there seemed to be a definite divide between the class; people would sit within their friendship groups leaving extremely limited interaction about debate topics within the lecture. As a student within this cohort, I have noticed this in all lectures; it is particularly evident when we are set group work to complete. A happy, friendly environment contributes to learning dramatically; being able to bounce off each other’s ideas, various strengths and weaknesses within a population can be beneficial. The lack of friendship across the class may also affect the confidence of students to answer questions in front of each other, I noticed some students would whisper answers to their friend next to them. By doing this, they are not receiving the positive reinforcement of praise when they answer the question correctly, possibly prohibiting their ability to learn or remember that information.

Some students responded better to the use of hand-outs in comparison to others. For example some students would look at the hand-out, and put it to the back of their books; some would engross in the hand-out and make notes on it to refer back to and some would leave the handout in eye-view to refer back to mentally as the lecturer talks through it. This shows variation in style of learning which I believe is majorly important as feedback to lecturers to maintain diversity in styles of teaching within one lecture. Some students may be interactive learners, some physical and some passive. After doing the observations last year on teaching techniques I believe Nick is aware of this.

Towards the end of the lecture students were beginning to struggle to maintain enthusiasm and attention; we had a full day of lectures and tiredness was starting to overcome. Nick responded to this observation himself and called for a 15 minute break; after the break students were perkier and Nick maintained this by consistently asking questions, saying jokes and emphasising on vital sections of the lecture by saying it is “important”.

I found this observation more difficult in comparison to last year in the sense of keeping up with the lecture content. I found myself focussing on what my peers were doing in order to acquire sufficient notes for this research rather than writing down lecture content and focussing on what Nick was saying. Looking back, this was to be expected and I realise I did not experience this issue in cycle 1 as we were focussing on the lecturer anyway. In future I would suggest choosing a lecture that is not so ‘content-heavy’ so that it is easier to keep up. I have also noticed my observations are relatively negative; as mentioned in my reflection of the first cycle, year 2 has been more intense than first year causing stress and perhaps tension between some of my peers, but hopefully everyone has found their own way to cope and pass this academic year.

I was unwell the day of Mark’s lecture, therefore I was unable to come in and observe.

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Radiotherapy student researcher Shaun James observation cycle 2 reflection

As part of my role as a student researcher for the learning and teaching project, I observed the teaching, lecturers and student response in both a lecture and a workshop session. My aim for these observations was to understand how students learned and how they engaged with one another collaboratively, as well as with the lecturer, to improve their learning. The first lecture was an anatomy. The second session was based in the Virtual Environment Radiotherapy Treatment (VERT) suite where we were working on our own presentations for our end of module assessment. I observed 60 minutes of the anatomy lecture and 40 minutes of the VERT session.

Prior to my observation of these lecturers; myself, my fellow student research and my two lecturers had a meeting to discuss the aims of the observation and to ensure that we streamlined what, as student observers, we would be focussing on. The lecturers had very differing lectures to present with differing intentions. The anatomy lecture was based upon improving our own knowledge as practitioners and providing links to clinical practice. Whilst the VERT session was based around working on our own presentation plan, thus due to the differing session styles it would be probable that we would observe different styles of learning in both. The BSc Radiotherapy University course is spent 50/50 between clinical placement and university academic. This means that, unlike some university course, what we learn is meant to provide us with the tools for a successful and safe career, not simply just a means to pass an exam.

The anatomy lecture are meant to be a relaxed and informal session. However, as has been the trend this year, student participation and engagement was lacking from the offset. The lecturer tried to increase engagement through the use of humour and directing questions openly to the cohort. However, whilst engagement in the lecture wasn’t high this was through no fault of the lecturer who noticed non-verbal cues that students had issues understanding the content and this showed a solid understanding of the classes needs. There were only a few instances where the content of lecture delivery the lecturer took away from the classes learning, for example; when writing labels onto work sheets the students were distracted from the verbal teaching by the lecturer and thus lost out on valuable information. As far as observing the students needs within the educational environment the lecturer ensured that the students were consistently on task and that through the use of questioning students were taking in information. That being said not all students displayed the behaviour of those who were actively learning. In some instances the first time some students picked up a pen was when they were instructed to by the lecturer. Whilst some students may not be making notes due to using recordings of the session to compose notes at a later date it does raise questions over whether this actually happens and to what degree they are actually learning and engaging during these sessions. One of the major positives of my lecturers teaching style is an understanding of just how much information students can take in before they need a break. The utilisation of breaks ensures that students come back refreshed and ready to finish the content, rather than being worn down into an information filled stupor. Clever utilisation of these breaks is made not only through performing a check of understanding prior to it but also a recap upon return. Overall the lecturer was consistent in their approach to students, using questioning to ensure they had a grip on the content as well as singling out those who looked as though they weren’t engaged to ensure they kept pace with the group.

The second observation, as aforementioned, took place during a more practical VERT session in small groups of 6 to 8 students to the one lecturer, where the primary aim was to work on our own personal presentations. These smaller group sessions are meant to be more relaxed than traditional lectures and provide students with greater opportunities to work collaboratively. Within these sessions we can choose who we want to be in a group with and what time we wish to have the session delivered at. To avoid bias I booked into VERT with a random group so I would not be able to predict the groups behaviour or have any preconceived ideas at to what I expected to see. At the  beginning of the session the lecturer made use of humour to try to bring some engagement out of the students, which was not greatly received and from the offset it was clear this would be a quiet group. As such the lecturer tried to get around this by asking open questions of the student completing their work at the time. This was cleverly done as to not provide answers to the student but to more push them in the right direction and to lead them to the right idea under their own steam. It was obvious very quickly though that the students weren’t really learning from each others work as the lecturer had to repeat the same instructions to each participant and this lead to some slight annoyance from some members of the cohort. It was also obvious that when a weaker student who needed more assistance that the lecturer would step in to help and to ensure they achieved the aims of the session. Whilst with a stronger candidate the lecturer would take a more passive role and only broker advice when approached by the student. This, I believe was a very successful strategy as it allowed the students to work on their own presentations in their own way and ensured that not all of them would be the same. The lecturer also made sure to ensure there was good time management during the session and that the students didn’t run into each others time, however, this was done in a very passive manner which didn’t make the session feel rushed at any point. It was also obvious, as the session neared its conclusion and the concentration waned, that those students who had provided help to other student members before were now not getting the same level of help back from the students. Thus it opens the question; why should stronger students help the weaker students if they cannot receive the same level of support back?

The student observer process has been interesting and has made me think about how I as a student do learn and engage and how that is facilitated by the lecturers. I understand that not all students learn in the same manner and as such I commend the lecturers who I observed for the different techniques they used and how they tried to gain the maximum engagement from the cohort. Whilst the dynamics of the cohort can sometimes be difficult I feel that these observations have shown the need form a greater inter-student collaborative effort as we move into the third year to ensure that all students are as successful as possible. This being said there were times during my observations that I felt that I was looking more at what students and teachers were dong rather than at my own work – thus I have had to book tutorials with staff to ensure that my own learning was not affected during this work. Overall though I am happy with the observations made and look forward to seeing how the year and cohort develop as we move into our final year.

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Early Childhood Studies student researcher: Zainab Altaf

I am currently in my second year of my Early Childhood Study’s Degree. I am 19 years old and live in large family of 5 siblings. I have previously studied psychology and health and social care as my A-levels and throughout my years of learning I can honestly put forward that knowledge can always be captured no matter what the profession, there is no such thing as too much knowledge. In addition, I am extremely grateful to have gained all my experiences and skills and will always keep an eye out for new opportunities.

In the beginning of my academic year I witnessed a major difference between the learning environment, this is mainly because I transitioned through a 6 form college where the environment was more controlled and students were less independent. University to me in comparison to college, felt more independent and relaxed, however although in the beginning I was quite frightened by the change of environment and people, with the help of the staff I managed to make new friends from all age groups. This enabled me to share my experience as well as gain an insight into other individuals experiences.

The main reason behind my decision for going ahead with this course is to understand and help young children. Ever since I first started working with children during my placement at college I had a strong interest towards choosing to teach as my future career. Courses revolving around children can be extremely difficult and sensitive. As most childcare related jobs don’t only revolve around children, whereas it includes their families, backgrounds and everyone and everything related to them, which can be very personal and confidential. Hence in my opinion there will be a lot of skills that are needed to be acquired throughout the rest of this course.

One meaningful learning experience that I have attained throughout my first academic year is working alongside other individuals. Working with new people has always been an issue for me as I am a very shy person and fear what other people may think of my views. However due to majority of my assignments involving group work and engaging with new people I could improve this area of weakness. Having certain people to support me also played a major role towards how well I adapted towards engaging with other people. The support that I had attained from my lectures had played a major role in this achievement of mine as I had constantly gone through activities that involved talking to other peers. Alongside this I have also received support from a close friend who I had worked on a group presentation with, this friend enabled me to share my thoughts with the rest of the group ensuring that my views are shared and heard.

Overall, I aim to achieve more skills and experiences from this course alongside the university experience. And also wish to get involved in many opportunities possible to enable myself to advance my learning.

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Adult nursing student Oliver Suppiah Cycle 2 observation reflection

At the beginning of the second semester of my second year, I found myself at a level of positivity that I had not reached since I first started Nursing. This is not to say in any way that the course or anything solely involved with the course was causing the turbulent feelings I had in my first year, but that the success of both my Nursing Practice 2 Exam and my placement with District nurses changed the outlook I had of my future trajectory.

I can not point directly to where the model for learning I am about to refer to comes from, as there is contention about who its creator was, but it applies to the new outlook I have.

The four stages of learning, mentioned maybe twice or three times so far between school and university, talks about transitioning from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence. The two stages between portray the way we change how we analyse what we have learned. I know there is still a lot for me to absorb, and I still have a long journey ahead before I am qualified, but there is far less doubt in my mind that I am capable and passionate enough to succeed above and beyond what will be asked of me.

Despite how metaphorical and abstract my explanation is, the feelings that the new perspective brought have change the way in which I behave and react to situations. And this is important during cycle 2, as we moved into a module that was very focused on our professionalism and our ability to juggle being task-motivated as well as people-centred in healthcare.

Our first observation took place in a session where we were asked to role play a conversation with a patient, and this was a day where I was alone and without anyone to talk to near me. I let my anxiety about what I might say guide me to volunteering for the first role-play, one which took me out of my comfort zone entirely.

A 19-year-old boy who had just tested positive for chlamydia came into the imaginary clinic I was working at, and the conversation that followed I can honestly say shook me, but also gave a foundation of confidence talking about a difficult subject involving both personal and ethical aspects. Projecting this onto the wider trajectory I talked about earlier, I had the capacity to reserve judgement and remain professional through a conversation where I felt the patient was both stubbornly unaware of the safe sex and offensive towards women. Starting with this example, I have started to build a positive reflection catalogue of situations where I know in the past I have removed myself from a position of judgement and instead provided a supportive environment with open conversation.

The next session in the study, coincidentally, was about sexual health. I had spoken with Lee, who was running this session, about what he would like us to focus on; as I knew from our own version of the session that in this session he involved mixed teaching methods. We decided that the group-based problem solving would be most beneficial to the study and our learning/teaching experience, so during the session I approached a group of child nursing students who I had never met and set upon developing a plan for how we would talk to a 15 year old girl about her first sexual experience.

Now If the first session observation did not provide enough awkward conversations, then this one certainly did. As a perceived male adult nurse, who has no children or younger relatives, this case study was a maze built on a mine-field. Despite both this and the fact I was a stranger to the other students I sat with, I was welcomed into their conversation and listened intently to their ideas. Stepping back and approaching the problem from a different angle to how I would as an adult nurse was obviously made easier by being given a chance to speak to child nurses about their experiences. The emotional intelligence it must require to be able to care for individuals that range massively in their developmental stages is staggering, and in a future situation I can see myself looking for a resource or helpline to gather different fields opinions whenever the need arises without hesitation.

A major benefit I have taken away from both cycles is the chance to have an informal meeting with the people providing my education, and have an entire hour set aside to talk about my experience. I was both contributing to and benefiting from the best part of a new model of student-teacher collaboration. It felt like a team-based approach, and I had a Jay as my constant peer and colleague to give me a chance to listen to the way other students experience, perceive and evaluate the same things I have.

I believe that in practically every situation in life, collaborative problem-solving involving direct interactions between people from different backgrounds is the most comprehensive and usually most successful way to achieve a positive result. I am incredibly happy to have been part of a study that will go on to help show this, and I am grateful for the chance to evaluate my learning experience outside of simply successes and failures.

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Adult nursing student Oliver Suppiah Cycle 1 observation reflection

As Nursing students, we were asked to observe two sessions run by one of our lecturers, Lee Roberts. One session was on chronic wounds, and the other was about living with a disability. The first session, chronic wounds, was a session heavy with physiology going into detail about the process involved in normal wound healing and how this can be disrupted. The second session was much more discursive, with a focus on understanding an empathising with the problems facing an individual with a disability.

During the sessions, me and my colleague sat in the lecture theatre near the back and timed our observation, so we had 30 minutes of note taking. Before the sessions, we met together to discuss the way in which we would set out our observation tables, as well as what categories we could use to streamline our notes. Additionally, we met with Lee and the lecturer also taking part in the observation, Dion Smyth. We met Lee and Dion twice, first to talk through what our expectations of the study were and what factors influence our own learning experience, and then a second time to reflect upon the observations and how the study affected our metacognition of the learning process.

I approached the study with the idea that I would be able to get an insight into my own experiences of learning, and with that in mind, I was anxious about what I might uncover within myself. My attention can stray with very little provocation, and having already experienced university once and deciding to leave that course, I wanted to know what changed in my attitude that has made me more engaged and successful on the Nursing course.

While reflecting on each aspect of my observation table in turn, I realised that there was a constant flow of question and answer within my own interpretation of the information presented. The disruption of this flow can be caused by my own preoccupation with questions I pose in my head, but more often is caused by my fixation on the distracting behaviour of other students. This led me to feeling disappointed with both my own ability to concentrate, and other students’ lack of awareness for their peers learning. Despite this, there was a sense of achievement gained by completing this cycle of the study through a positive approach shared by me and my colleague.

Instead of focusing on superficial aspects of the way the lecture was presented, like the nuances of how Lee spoke or whether the content was noteworthy, we primarily noted the diverse ways the information was structured and how the audience and Lee responded to this information. This meant that we moved away from subjective judgements, which can only be used to infer our individual personal opinions.

During our training session for the study, we also had a question and answer style interview that was recorded. These recordings were sent to us via email, and listening to these proved incredibly helpful when identifying the parts of our own history of learning that relate to studying nursing. This gave me the idea of working backwards from my own cognition of the learning process to develop a table with categories of observable aspects, which could then be used to organise the points noted during the sessions. This led to a more objective approach to the observation, but also revealed a specific benefit I found in both visually presented processes in flow charts and the benefits of linking theory and practice through case studies.

Before our first scheduled observation, Jay and I met to discuss the tables we prepared using our practice observations and our initial interview recordings. By connecting the innate observations while taking notes in our own lectures with the conversations we had about how our own perceptions change the way we process information, we helped each other vocalise our expectations of lectures and what could be done to avoid assessing the content of the lecture based on these. Through doing this though, we also began discussing criteria for observation.

With this idea of criteria, there became a way of fixating on aspects of the session that were best to reflect on, and this lead to the learning experience being treated in a reactive way. Straying away from non-biased reflection post-observation and putting more effort into immediately reflecting on the session was a poor choice, and as this was my own mistake it became difficult to shift the reflection back to the topic of future learning experiences and how to improve them.

To have made a more positive difference in my own learning and reflection, I could have spent some time with my colleague Jay discussing the feelings and benefits that came from the experience. We could have recorded this meeting and used it as a debrief, therefore giving us the opportunity to go over the specific aspects of the sessions that we felt aided the learning process and used this to add to our reflection.

However, by designing my observation table to give me a category specifically focused on personal experiences and situations encountered in practice, my reflection revealed an important learning outcome in our course related to imagining a case study and assessing the patient. This involvement of visualisation of a real-life scenario changes the way information is managed and further committed to memory. A poignant example of this was when Lee discussed the idea of how a student nurse is made to feel empowered when on placement, or rather the lack of empowerment we usually experience. As students we are often referred to as simply ‘the student’ without attention paid to our names, and the expectations on us are continually shifting while our locus of control is no longer internalised. This was then translated over to how a patient feels when in our care, and how if there is a hierarchy of control with students lower down within it, then patients that are stripped of their individuality and placed into an environment they have little to no control over must be the lowest tier of this hierarchy.

The awareness that this study will provide of the factors affecting nursing students can be used to assess the formation of new programmes for the nursing course. There are links that can be made between the practical applications that a nursing programme must include and the lectures that discuss them in a beneficial way, through case study prompts and the occasional theatrical presentation.

It would have been advantageous if the study could have recruited more student observers, as this would have led to a wider range of perceptions of the sessions, as well as further evidence that there is a massive benefit to promoting reflective writing as a tool for improvement of both academic engagement and practical skills development.

Coincidentally, our timeframe for completing this cycle of the study coincides with the end of our module, which also means that our module assessment is imminent. This comes in the form of a summative exam, and I can certainly see the benefits of the self-discovery I have encountered during this observational study. My revision is now more tailored towards visualising physiological processes and breaking these into staged systems that I can follow, almost like a fluid narrative story.

Unfortunately, I was not able to apply any of my categorising techniques to my notes as it would not work very well retrospectively. However, in the future I will organise my post-session notes into separate text and images, with flow charts and prompt questions to summarise and jolt my revision. For this exam revision though I have fashioned my own key word flow charts to use as flash points.

As a final point, the results of this study should be able to help influence the changes that will be made to the new Nursing programmes for all the fields being designed for September 2019. I am proud to be part of a course that pays close attention to the feedback given by students. With this in mind, I hope that the extent of the data and reflection given by the students that took part across the fields can further the awareness the faculty staff have of the student experience, and the intrinsic and extrinsic factors that are involved in this experience.

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