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Sat, 05/18/2019 - 05:18
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Theories Of Learning And Teaching In Practice - Introduction

This paper will aim to demonstrate how learning theories inform knowledge development within the discipline of mental health nursing. Hill (2002), as cited by explains a learning theory as “an attempt to describe how people and animals learn, thereby helping us understand the inherently complex process of learning.” It was also noted in the same literature that “learning theories affords a platform from which vocabulary and a conceptual frameworks can be interpreted through the use of examples of learning that we have observed.”

Theories Of Learning

Theories Of Learning And Teaching

The three main theories of learning and teaching have been identified as Behaviourism, Cognitive and Constructivism and although the constructivism theory will be the main one used as the platform for this paper, elements of both the behaviourism and the cognitive theories will also be referenced to support the main argument.


This argument will be directly related to the theory of constructivism, since it accommodates the reasoning that “learning is based on the student’s active involvement and participation in problem solving and critical thinking regarding a learning activity,” and by extension defines constructivism as “an educational philosophy which holds that learners ultimately construct their own knowledge that then resides in them, so that each person’s knowledge is as unique as they are.” ( This is despite the fact that individual knowledge and reasoning can be acquired by students even within a singular learning episode.


Episode of Learning And Teaching

This episode of learning was based on the techniques used for intra muscular (IM) depot injections. This experience was garnered during a placement within the community, and in an environment that was also shared with two other students, and involved several sessions.


The initial session provided an opportunity the all students involved to learn the clinical reasons behind the administration of depot injects; this included the popular routes, the muscles involved, with specific reference to the “trust proposed sites of choice: the dorsogluteal and the ventrogluteal.” ( The discussion also included the methods used and who has the authority to carry out the administration; these were confirmed to be medical staff and Nurses who have completed training and registered with the ’Nurses and Wives Council. This session touched briefly on techniques, leaving room for questions to be asked of the mentor however a promise was made that the second session would allow greater opportunities to explore the many techniques of the (IM) injections. This first session ended with a directive for students to read more on what has been presented in order to achieve clarity where there was doubt as well as build on what was taught within limited time. This directive was taken on board, and the students decided to work together, this provided an academic support system where students could bounce ideas off each other through their own life/clinical experiences.


As promised the second session delved deeper into the techniques/skills needed to successfully administer an injection. These ranged from: reading prescription charts, needle size-as it relates to body weight or medication, skin preparation, Z tracking and the withdrawal of the plunger of the syringe prior to administering an intramuscular injection, also taking into account, tissue depth, needle selection and the position of the patient. Literature was handed out during this session to encourage further reading. Reasons were given to support the circumstances under which it would be justifiably necessary to deviate from proposed sites, and where or how this information should be documented in the nursing notes. As this session was on pre—booked depot clinic day, the opportunity was granted for the students to observe a depot being administered by a trained staff to a patient, therefore allowing a ‘real’ experience of how the techniques are employed to the scenario. This second session ended with a directive that the students should practice what they had observed on oranges to get familiar with the techniques. It was also advised that students should explore the practice in such a way that would enable them to identify what feels most comfortable for them when filling the syringe and administering the drug, since no specific way of holding the needle has been identified. During this session, emphasis was placed on being a safe nurse, (ie) wearing gloves, checking the dates on the medication and in fact, checking that the medication corresponds with the drug chart.


The third session was one where the students got an opportunity to practice on a patient, so in this case they were there ones who would be observed, to assess if they had adopted the skills previously observed. It was understood that students could ask questions if they were unsure about anything as a way of ensuring safe practice. The strategy was also one which insisted that unless there was something obviously unsafe in the practice, no interruptions would be made during administration, and that all reflections would take place after the patient had left the room.


The extent of the teacher student observation covered the entire process, from hand washing to disposing of the used syringes and gloves. Again, this was done both to assess safety and to assess how much of what had been taught from the student teacher sessions had actually been retained.


During further sessions, which ran with a frequency of at least two times a week, for a period of six weeks, continued opportunities for supervised administration of depot injections were allowed. Administration skills assessment was continually carried out and it was constant improvement of these skills by students which served as evidence of the effectiveness of this approach/theory of learning and teaching.


Theories of Learning


Continue to Part 2 - Constructivist Theory