Becoming and being active learners and creating active learning workplaces: the value of active learning in practice development



Publication Details

Dewing, J. (2008). Becoming and being active learners and creating active learning workplaces: the value of active learning in practice development. In K. Manley, B. McCormack & V. Wilson (Eds.), International Practice Development in Nursing and Healthcare (pp. 273-294). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing.


Introduction A popular definition of practice development (PD) advocates the advancement of knowledge and skills as a necessary part of achieving the transformation in workplace cultures (Garbett & McCormack, 2004). This is not simply a technical acquisition of knowledge, nor is it a linear or simple process. Earlier in this book (Chapter 6), Clarke & Wilson suggest that learning, by individuals and by organisations, is at the very heart of PD activity. In addition, the place of work-based learning (Hardy et al., 2007) and critical reflection (Kim, 1999; McCormack et al., 2002; Dewing & Wright, 2003) in contributing to the ultimate purpose(s) of PD is also now being highlighted. Dewing et al. (2006) have added to this, suggesting that work-based learning needs to be 'active'. By 'active' the author of this chapter means, learning in PD work revolves around reflection, dialogue with self and others and engaging in learning activities in the workplace that make use of the senses, multiple intelligences and doing things (i.e. workplace learning activities) together with colleagues and others. Thus, in this chapter, I propose that one of the central tenets and processes in PD is systematic active learning. Consequently, facilitation of active learning needs to be recognised as a core responsibility of practice developers and needs to be enabled within organisations. Practice developers then must have the means to assess and evaluate their interventions to ensure that they maximise opportunities for active learning for individuals and groups (McCormack et al., 2002; Dewing et al., 2004). Since every encounter in PD is a learning opportunity, there are many ways active learning can be a part of PD. This chapter offers you a selection of ways in which active learning can be facilitated, so you first have a sense of how it can be 'made real' and secondly you can actively reflect, on your own or with others, on the methods and consider what they mean for your practice and your workplace.

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