This is a journal reflection of selected quotes from Adult Learning: Linking Theory and Practice. (Merriam & Bierema, 2014)
“There are few educators who would disagree with the principle that lifelong learning is a good thing but the important questions are about the types of learning that the concept promotes, the life that it encourages us to lead, who benefits from this and the nature of the society that it upholds.” (p. 20/21)
This was a thought-provoking quote that encouraged me to examine my thoughts about the term ‘life-long learning’, and what it means to me as both an educator and learner. In my career as a Registered Nurse, the concept of life-long learning has been prevalent in every aspect of my practice. This learning encompasses what I learn from patients, different skills and experiences, and from formal training in the workplace. From the very first day of Nursing school it was an expectation that nurses are to engage in life-long learning and to apply this learning to practice every day. When I read this quote, I saw life-long learning as a much larger concept. A term that I thought to be a simple notion of applying what I learn at work, is actually a global concept that is shaping whole societies and fostering development of programs that influence economic and social growth (Merriam & Bierema, 2014). Questioning the concept itself and what types of learning can be considered ‘life-long learning’ caught my attention and prompted further reflection.
Educators influence the idea of life-long learning. If we acknowledge that adult learners need to know the ‘why’ behind what they are learning, then teachers need to be clear on the types of life-long learning they expect and articulate why it benefits the learner. This quote made me realize how much teaching can inspire a person to pursue life-long learning. To me, teaching and life-long learning are synergistic. As an educator, I am engaging in continual learning from my students as I provide guidance and facilitate skills necessary to work as a nurse. When Crowther (2012) asks educators to examine who benefits from this concept of life-long learning, I find myself examining the ways I have benefitted. Was it a particular teacher that assisted my internalization of the concept of being a life-long learner, or was it a by-product of the society I grew up in?
I have always taken the idea of being a life-long learner for granted. I feel like it was instilled in me that as a nurse and a professional, I would always strive to seek out learning opportunities and gain new knowledge, thus encompassing the idea of life-long learning. As I moved into an educator role in a formal classroom setting, I assumed that the nursing students I teach understand that they will be life-long learners. I realized it is necessary for me teach what life-long learning is, and why it is important to the profession of nursing. This quote motivates me as an adult educator, it inspires me to articulate my beliefs about life-long learning and the benefits it can provide not only in our professional lives, but personally as well.
This quote has been interesting to reflect upon. I have always embraced the concept of life-long learning, but had not considered the societal implications or benefits of life-long learning. This quote has made me think about how I teach, and examine how I instill the need for life-long learning to the learners I teach. I have identified that one of the elements of teaching I am passionate about is the idea of life-long learning. Albert Einstein said, “Once you stop learning, you start dying”. I believe that to be true. I feel the perpetual need to continue learning and share that knowledge as an educator.
Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons. (pp.20/21)
Crowther, J. (2012). ‘Really useful knowledge’ or ‘merely useful’ lifelong learning? In: Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons. (pp.20/21)
“an educated person is one who has learned how to learn…how to adapt and change.” (p. 31)
Reading this quote elicited a feeling of immediate agreement from me. I realized that a part of adult education I am passionate about is life-long learning. The element of adapting and changing resonated with me since I firmly believe change is the desired outcome of life-long learning. As a nurse and a college instructor, I can think of many examples where change took place as a direct result of my having “learnt to learn”. When I engage with nursing colleagues, patients, and students I learn from every interaction, it is this continual learning that helps me become a stronger and more competent instructor.
As I reflect on this quote, I see that it is the role of the educator to support learners in the process of ‘learning how to learn’. This is closely linked to inspiring learner’s motivation, meeting their individual learning needs, and facilitating success in whatever the learning outcomes may be. If I can support a student in understanding why continual and life-long learning can be so important to their personal growth and career goals, then I feel that I have assisted in the process of learning how to learn. Establishing relevancy and relatable content are some of the key elements of motivating continual learning. When I share personal experiences with my students and can articulate how I learned from those experiences, the students respond with an eagerness to create their own experiences. Perhaps making content relevant is the key to mastering how to learn?
It seems to me that this quote is speaking to the understanding of how each moment can be a learning moment, and responding to that learning elicits positive change that makes us ‘educated’. As an adult educator, I can support and provide feedback to learners, helping to guide them in the continual life-long learning that is necessary for success. Learning to learn goes beyond teaching study skills, it is creating an opportunity for adapting and applying content.
When I examine how this quote influences my teaching, I realized that I need to articulate my learning to my students and discuss how being open and receptive to change makes successful learners. The constant change that is the career of nursing and the continual need to learn from each experience are important elements that I need to consider as an educator. Reflecting on this quote enabled me to identify that I am passionate about experiential learning and that changing and adapting from experiences, are to me, what makes a successful and educated person.
Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons. (pp.31)
“learning from one’s experience involves not just reflection, but critical reflection.” (p. 117)
This quote resonated with me as soon as I read it. The term ‘critical reflection’ has been an espoused value from Day 1 of my nursing career. Critical reflection, to me, is the process of thinking about a situation, a moment, or an interaction, and then analyzing it. Reflection in my experience, is simply ‘remembering’ a situation or moment, but critical reflection is truly trying to understand that moment, using a thoughtful process to examine the why, and what would I change if the same situation occurred. During my nursing education critical reflection was reviewed and graded. Nursing students used journaling, essays and formal ‘critical reflection’ tools to review experiences and articulate the learning from those experiences. The same tools are still used in the nursing classes, and with effective results. Nursing as a profession looks at critical reflection as a competency of practice.
When I read Brookfield’s (1991) three phases of critical refection, I identified with the process of examining assumptions and then changing them to fit with my experience, and how they can be improved. When I read this quote I realized that I feel very strongly about the need to critically reflect as both an educator and a nurse, and it is a value that I utilize in my interactions with learners.
Teaching and learning seems to go hand in hand, and critical reflection is necessary for both. Examining past experiences, and sharing those experiences, is necessary to meet the needs of adult learners. Sharing experiences makes the learning real, and creates relatedness and relevancy for learners. It is necessary however, to not just talk or share about an event that is happened, but to critically reflect on those experiences and share what you have learned from it. The process of sharing what has been learned from the analysis seems to me, much more relevant.
A timely example happened for me last night when I was covering for a colleague instructor. My role was to administer a quiz and then introduce an assignment on Reflective Practice to a group of Health Care Aide students. When I started the discussion on Reflective Practice and what reflection is, the students were not very engaged and were mostly focused on being relieved that their quiz was over. But when I began to talk about a situation that I encountered and how critically reflecting on that situation, changed my outlook and my decisions the next time the situation arose, the classroom changed and the students began to relate to what I was talking about and why. Demonstrating how critical reflection changed my practice and then being able to share that with learners’, was impactful. This situation demonstrated to me that as I reflect on my experiences, and carry that into the learning environment, it makes my teaching more impactful and experiential for the learner.
Reading this quote made me think about the importance of not only teaching critical reflection as part of Nursing practice but also as an educator. It is necessary to critically reflect on each experience I have with learners. The process of examining and truly understanding my experiences as an educator will only help me become more skilled. Reflecting on what I do as an instructor will allow me to hone my teaching skills, examine what I have said or done, and let me implement new ways of teaching. This quote helped me understand that critical reflection is necessary for change and growth.
Reflecting on this quote has cemented for me that I value experiential learning, and the thoughtful process of critical reflection. I have always thought of critical reflection as a tool that is used for teaching as well as learning. This quote highlighted for me that part of my role is to implement my learning from critical reflection, as well as facilitate learners to begin to incorporate reflection into their practice. I felt motivated and inspired by reflecting on this quote. It provided me clarity in examining a process that I feel is important to Nursing practice and my role as an educator.
Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons. (pp.117)
Brookfield, S.D. (1991). Using critical incidents to explore learners’ assumptions. In Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons. (pp.117)
“Persevering at online learning is also affected by computer and information literacy, time management…online communication skills…self-esteem, feelings of belongingness in the online program and the ability to develop interpersonal skills with peers…” (p. 199)
This was a quote that peaked my interest as it reminded me so strongly how much the classroom for adult learners has changed in such a short time. I graduated with my BScN sixteen years ago. When I was a student there were no online course components, no use of TED talks, YouTube, or any other form of social media. Now as I instruct nursing students, I see first-hand that the online world is a huge part of their learning journey. Many students choose to do their pre-requisite courses as online, self-directed courses. For many, that means their first introduction to post-secondary education is done online. That raises the question to me about how connected the students feel to the content, and to the other learners in the course. Is it more of a challenge to feel a part of the learning if you are working at it alone? For me, I enjoy online learning when there is use of public forums, and you can discuss points of interest or challenges with other learners. The quote made me think of not only how I learn online, and what challenges I experience, but also how do I as an educator, develop the skills needed to support students in online learning that is so common now?
This quote highlights for me that as an adult educator, I need to be current in my knowledge of skills in the classroom, and be knowledgeable in online learning. I will also have to take additional steps in ensuring that online tools I am using can be learned by those enrolled in the class. Much of my teaching is done in the classroom, but preparation for class, including readings and assignments, is posted online for students. There is an expectation that learners can confidently access the online resources, be able to connect with peers via social media and utilize the technology available to them. This quote raises awareness that computer literacy can be a barrier to a student’s success in the class.
Recently in this course, I posted on the course forum an update. It was a general ‘how it is going’ statement. Days went by and there was no response. I tried again with a humorous statement and still no responses. This experience was interesting to me, and made me consider this quote further. I am confident and self-directed and this lack of response did not deter me from completing my work in the course, but it did make me feel more alone and perhaps a little deflated that there was not much interest in establishing connections with peers. It made me consider a learner with less self-esteem, who might be feeling overwhelmed. Does this lack of online support from peers affect their outcomes? In an article by Rob Kelly (2016) he states, “the online classroom can sometimes feel like a lonely place due to a lack of presence of the instructor and other students. This lack of presence can negatively affect learning and lead to student attrition.” This supports the importance of ensuring learners are prepared for the online elements imbedded in present day adult learning. As an instructor, I need to understand and prepare for the challenges that online learning presents and continue my education to stay current with the technology that is present in the teaching environments.
When I reflect on the online learning world and my experiences as both a learner and an instructor, I realize that this is a facet of adult education that will continue to increase in prevalence. This quote made me consider the needs of learners with regards to connectedness, motivation and course success. I can see now that it is important to consider the barriers to learning in the physical classroom and also the online classroom. I can utilize my experience in online learning and use my feelings to anticipate and plan for potential pitfalls my students may encounter. Being mindful of the considerable challenges of online learning and recognizing that many learners have different levels of computer literacy and confidence will be important. This reflection will help guide my further quest for confidence in supporting learners on line.
Merriam, S. B., & Bierema, L. L. (2014). Adult learning: Linking theory and practice . San Francisco, CA:John Wiley & Sons. (pp.199)
Kelly, R. (2016, February 12). How to Add the Human Element to Online Learning. Retrieved May 07, 2016, from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/how-to-add-the-human-element-to-online-learning/