Sample Paper on Self-Managed Learning and Healthcare Assistant Portfolio

How Self-Managed Learning Can Enhance Lifelong Learning

Self-managed learning refers to a means that allows individuals to identify various ways of learning new things. It entails setting out goals that the learners needs to achieve and the need of the learning process by examining the aim of learning ands the means of achieving the set goals. On the other hand, lifelong leaning involves learning throughout one’s lifetime (Davies 2006). It is diverse, flexible, and available at different places and times. The self-managed learning approach is the brainchild of Professor Ian Cunningham, based on his personal experiences the theory of levels of learning that was being promoted by Gregory Bateson. Self-managed learning is seen by many scholars as a structural approach to learning. It consists of two key elements namely, the Learning Group, and the Learning Agreement (Cunningham 1999). In the Learning Agreement, the student or learner who is pursuing self-managed learning reaches an agreement with the learning group as a means to achieving their learning goals.

As part of the learning agreement, the student is required to provide answers to five questions on where they have been, where they are at currently, what they have set their eyes on achieving, how they intend to do that, and how they will determine that they have attained their goal (Cunningham &  Bennett 2000). Providing answers to these five questions acts as a strong foundation for setting up goals, in addition to enabling the student to focus on their past experiences relevant to the current goal. Self-managed learning teaches people how to manage individual learning. The goal of this report is explore ways in which self-managed learning can improve lifelong learning. To do so, approaches to self-managed learning shall be explored. Additionally, the report shall also endeavor to explore ways and means of encouraging lifelong learning in personal and professional contexts.

1.1 Self-Managed Learning Approaches

While learning is a lifelong process, there are, however, various ways through which self-managed learning can be accomplished:

Conferences and Seminars

Conferences and seminars have both proven to be ideal platforms for people to learn what they have already experienced, and hopefully make the necessary changes for the future (Bennett, Dawes & Cunningham 2012). Through conferences and seminars, individuals have a chance to display their knowledge to others and in the process, other individuals get to learn new things from such experiences. In addition, conferences and seminars afford people the confidence to speak in public, not to mention that they also improve in their presentation skills that are vital in an organizational setting.

Social Networks

Such social networks as Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming a rich platforms for self-managed learning for millions of people. Through chatting with friends and acquaintances, new groups, and bulletin boards (Bennett et al. 2012), people get to learn new things, and especially how they can succeed in their careers.

Internet

The internet has over the past few decades emerged as a powerful learning tool. There are numerous articles on the internet written by authors who are specialists in such disciplines as strategic management, marketing, economics, and sociology, among others. By reading these articles, an individual acquires valuable knowledge from them and he/she can in turn transfer the knowledge gained to their workplaces (Bennett et al. 2012). Government agencies also have their information databases and these can be accessed via the internet. Such websites and articles are a powerful source of information on self-managed learning.

1.2 Methods of Enhancing Lifelong Learning in both Professional and Personal Contexts

Life-long learning means that the individual is continuously learning for their personal and professional development. One way of doing this is for individuals to undertake personal SWOT (strengths, weaknesses opportunity, and threats) analysis in order to assess themselves for lifelong learning. An assailment of one’s SWOT analysis will guide them in the development of their individual professional learning via the use of such other tools as continuing professional development (CPD) and self-reflective learning. Self-reflective learning entails endeavoring to review personal understanding, opines, actions, and judgments that you are ready and willing to take in an honest and proper way (Clark 2005). Doing so can enable an individual to link their professional development to practical issues that he/she may have gone through in their lives, be it academically, or socially. In this case, self-reflective learning can enable individuals to learn and utilize novel skills in the workplace, in addition to also developing their individual skills through the responsibilities and tasks assigned to them. Even as self-reflective learning entails a review of things, on the other hand, CPD (continuing professional development) integrates ideas, techniques, and approaches that are vital in the development of individual learning and growth to a given desirable level. CPD enables individuals to plan and assess their learning process through opinions and accepting judgments.

1.3 Benefits of Self-Managed Learning

Self-managed learning carries numerous benefits for the individual and the organization as well. In the case of the individual, it inculcates in them teamwork skills. Working with teams in completing university projects and group assignments in school can be beneficial to the individual who is keen on developing skills and competence. Moreover, self-managed learning allows a person to learn and improve their presentation skills (Davies 2006). For example, skills in-class presentation enable an individual to express his/her knowledge in a given topic.

More importantly, the individual gains confidence to speak in public and this could be of immense benefit to them later on when they are required to make a presentation for the organization. Through self-learning, individuals also get the opportunity to develop their writing and communication skills (Davies 2006). Besides, self-directed learning enables individuals to be independent and the challenges that they face and surmount along the way inculcates in them valuable lessons that they can share with others. This helps to create good synergy that is so important for organizational development. Moreover, such synergy is crucial in encouraging others to also try new things.

Another valuable benefit of lifelong learning is that it enables us to adapt to change. In this case, a lifelong learner endeavors to keep up-to-date of the various changes in such diverse areas as technology, finances, political trends, and money issues, among others (Bennett et al. 2012). A lifelong learner is always on the lookout for opportunities to adopt new developments and technologies. Lifelong learning also adds meaning to our lives, because we get to learn new things that enrich us individually and professionally.

Self-managed learning is also beneficial to the organisation in a number of ways. To begin with, it is a key aspect of the organizational decision making process. Through self-managed learning, individuals acquire decision-making skills via the various learning experiences that they have gone through, be it in class, or in the workplace (Clark 2005). Self-managed learning also teaches people the importance of moral judgment and being ethical. This can be of a lot of benefit to the professional image of an organisation because there are certain codes of practice and rules that the organisation and its workforce is expected to abide by in their lien of work.

Moreover, self-managed learning imparts in an individual problem solving skills, and the individual can in turn transfer these skills to others in the organisation to help solve various problems. Furthermore, self-managed learning teaches an individual; how to be flexible (Cunningham & Bennett 2000). This can be beneficial to the organisation especially where an employee is required to perform various tasks. In this way, a flexible employee assists the organisation to achieve the set goals and organisational objectives.

Conclusion

Self-managed learning is a crucial skill for various professionals. Organisations that are focused on dealing with the various challenges facing them encourage their employees to pursue self-managed learning. In broad terms, self-directed learning is that process through which an individual assumes the responsibility, alone, or with the help of a learning group to identify their learning needs, develop learning goals, identify learning resources, execute learning strategies, and assess learning outcomes. Self-managed learning enables an individual to learn according to his/her time slots. The individual also has the freedom to identify their learning goals, with a focus on being an active learner. This is important, considering that a lot of knowledge has been rendered obsolete by advances in technology. There is need therefore to inculcate in an individual the importance of lifelong learning, as we cannot confine learning to universities and schools alone. It is the duty of the individual to ensure that they learn throughout their life. In this case, self-managed learning inculcates in an individual the flexibility, discipline, and commitment needed to pursue lifelong learning. This can be propagated by the use of conferences and seminars; social networks; and the internet. Lifelong learning benefits the individual at a personal and professional level, and the organisation as well. This can be encouraged by undertaking personal SWOT analysis, self-reflective learning, and continuing professional development. As a result, an individual learns how to improve their communication, written and presentation skills, and can easily adapt to change. This in turn enables thee organisation to achieve its set objectives more efficiently.

2. Personal and Professional Development

Healthcare has been changing over years, which implies that we, practitioners in the field ought to keep up with the changes taking place. As a Healthcare assistant, my roles revolve around assisting healthcare professionals in taking care of patients. Over the years, this has not been an easy task, but through constant personal and professional development, I have learnt the art of directing myself to learn new concepts in healthcare. Moreover, personal development has also been achieved through on job training, where I have gained skills and knowledge through constant interaction with various colleagues, especially my seniors who are more knowledgeable through experience and education.

Self-directed learning has been of immense benefit to my practice. I have mainly gained self-directed learning through empowering myself to take more responsibility in improving my personal skills, embracing mentorship from my seniors and expansive study through reading and teamwork and reflective writing.

I took the initiative to develop personal and professional skills after continuous planning and monitoring of my current skills. According to Straub (1996), creating a personal skills portfolio is essential for any individual who is willing to advance in his/her career. A personal skills portfolio enables the professional to identify their strong points and weak points in regards to the skills required in their workplace. Moreover, it enables one to formulate strategies that will enable them to determine ways through which they can develop their skills. Through planning and monitoring, I was able to identify my strong and weak points and how I can develop my strong points even as I endeavored to improve on my weak points (Amherst 2000). To achieve this, I purposed to develop my skills by participating in various personal development activities, including attending seminars, reading, teamwork, and mentorship. I have also read widely on various publications on personal development, including experimental learning by Kolb (1984), Critical Reflection by Murray and Kujundzic (2005), and Team Problem Solving by Pokras (1994).

2.1 Evaluation of Current Skills and Competencies against Professional Standards and Organizational Objectives
Skills and Competencies Skill level
Healthcare professional skills:

Looking after the physical needs of the patients, for instance helping to bathe patients who are unable to do so, and discharging bedpans.

Keeping patients’ rooms clean, in addition to cleaning equipments and changing patients’ beddings.

Taking and recording essential patients ‘ readings such as temperature, blood glucose levels, respiration rate, and pulse rate and patients weight.

Assisting patients to eat and to move about, especially those who are afflicted by mobility issues.

Preparing patients for medical treatment such as surgeries and therapy.

5
Organizational skills:

I am very efficient in the duties and responsibilities that have been defined by my job description.

I have the ability to ensure that the department in general and treatment and patients’ rooms in particular, have been organized as they should.

Ability to prepare equipment prior to treatment sessions.

Ability to decide which patient requires the most attention at any one given time.

5
Listening skills:

Ability to listen keenly and patiently to the needs of patients, as well as acting on them appropriately.

Ability to listen to and follow instructions given by my superiors.

Ability to listen to the input, views, and ideas of other health practitioners.

5
Communication skills:

I am able to adequately converse with patients and hence ease their feelings of loneliness and distress.

Ability to answer questions and discuss various treatment options with other healthcare professionals and patients.

Informing healthcare professionals of changes in patients’ health such as the abnormal pulse rates, glucose levels, and temperatures.

4
Team player:

Able to work with all kinds of people, from different backgrounds.

Healthcare involves working with multidisciplinary teams, and this has taught me to be a resourceful team player.

Embraces the input of all people.

5
Problem solving skills:

Taking up challenging responsibilities in the absence of nurses.

Ability to take own initiative in hard tasks.

Proactive – Able to observe early warnings of patients deteriorating health.

3
Leadership skills:

Supervises a group of healthcare assistants.

Proactive to ensure patients well-being improves.

3
2.2 Development Needs and Activities Required to Meet Professional Standards and Organizational Objectives
SWOT analysis
Strengths
  • Self-director learner
  • Ability to research new methods
  • Vivid reader
  • Appreciates correction from superiors
  • Ability to grasp new concepts
  • Well-developed communication skills
  • Result-oriented
  • Good listener
Weaknesses
  • Underdeveloped leadership skills
  • Lagging behind in technology
  • Weak network connections
  • Time management
Opportunities
  • Career advancement
  • Mentorship
  • Learning and development
Threats

Based on my personal SWOT analysis, I have seen my professional skills in regards to healthcare responsibilities develop. However, I still need to develop my leadership skills as a healthcare assistant, considering that many people, including colleagues and patients, look up to me for guidance. Moreover, the advancement in technology in healthcare has created a need for me to advance my technological know-how. I believe that when these needs are met, I will not only have learnt new concepts but will also have advanced professionally as a health care assistant.

My preferred learning styles for the new technology methods are through expert training whereby an expert directly imparts knowledge on how for example, to operate given equipment. In regards to leadership skills, my preferred learning style is through attending leadership seminars, which are offered by consultancy firms. Moreover, my experienced workplace superiors can also mentor me on how I can effectively become a better leader in my department.

In spite of my weaknesses, my strengths are well built to such a level that I am now better able to work on my weaknesses. For instance, my ability to quickly grasp new concepts will enable me understand new methods taught and explained in seminars and workshops. In addition, this will enable me to grasp advice from my mentors. Moreover, as an individual who prides me on being a conscientious fact finder, I believe that my personal library of books will enhance my knowledge in healthcare practices that are not known to me. More importantly, I have come to rely on credible articles found on the internet. These have helped to improve my knowledge base and research skills because I get the opportunity to adopt ideas by various experts in different fields. In this way, I am optimistic that my acquired research skills will help me to reduce the gap between my strengths and weaknesses, which will reduce the chances of weaknesses being exposed. I found it necessary to do so in order not to expose my weaknesses through poor service delivery, patient, and colleague’s complaints and also by having superiors identify my weak points.

Through the mentioned learning styles, my skills and knowledge in leadership and technology will be developed. Moreover, other critical skills in healthcare will be enhanced such as problem solving skills, which will improve my decision-making skills (Pokras 1994).

2.3 Development Opportunities for Meeting Current and Future Defined Needs

As a healthcare assistant, I am required to continuously develop my skills for the benefit of the patients I serve and also for the organisation. As such, I have identified certain personal needs that will enable me to fulfill my responsibilities in the best way possible. These needs will be met through development opportunities available in my work place and also through my own initiative to develop my skills as a healthcare assistant. These opportunities include:

Training and Development

Training and development includes receiving training on healthcare concepts through on job or off-job training. On-job training will enhance my skills and knowledge through being taught by my superiors and also by colleagues who are more familiar with certain issues. Moreover, on job training includes being taught by an expert on technical issues such as handling new equipment.

On the other hand, training and development opportunities exist externally, which is in classes and attending seminars, which will enhance my skills. For instance, upgrading my education is an opportunity that will enable me to attain growth through learning new methods and concepts.

Mentorship

Mentorship is an important learning opportunity, which is available in the work place. It involves identifying an experienced individual who is competent in my field and readily available to mentor me in healthcare practices. Through mentorship, I will learn and be inspired to improve my skills and knowledge. More importantly, I will also gain valuable information on how to improve the well-being of patients who will be under my care. Moreover, my leadership skills will be enhanced since my mentor, a leader in the organisation will instill leadership skills through teaching me ways of becoming a better leader in my department.

Self-Directed Learning

Self-directed learning according to Rothwell and Senseng (1999) is a learning process whereby individual learners are empowered through taking responsibility for their own learning. This implies that though other methods of learning are essential, self-directed learning has the ability to empower individuals by enabling them to be self-sufficient. As such, self-directed learning is a development opportunity for me, which will be achieved through research, observations, reading, participation in groups and teamwork and also reflective writing.

2.4 Personal and Professional Development Plan
Personal Needs Plan
Career advancement ·         Upgrading my education

·         Networking to increase connections

·         Receiving Mentorship

Professional knowledge ·         On-job training

·         Self-directed training

·         Mentorship

Technological skills ·         Expert training

·         Research on new innovative methods

Leadership skills ·         Expansive research and reading

·         Attending leadership seminars and workshops

·         Mentorship

 

Reference

Amherst, MA Sangster, C 2000, Planning and organizing personal and professional development. 1st ed.,  Gower Pub Co., Aldershot, Hants:

Bennett, B, Dawes, G & Cunningham, I 2012, The Handbook of Work Based Learning, Gower Publishing, Farnham, UK.

Clark, T 2005,’ Lifelong, life-wide or life sentence?’, Australian Journal of Adult Learning, vol. 45, no.1, pp. 1-8.

Cunningham, I & Bennett, B 2000, Self Managed Learning in Action, Qower Publishing Co., Aldershot, Hants:

Cunningham, I 1999, The Wisdom of Strategic Learning: The Self Mnaged Learning Soution, Gower Publishing Co.,  Aldershot, Hants:

Davies, A 2006,’”Management development through self managed learning: the case of West Sussex County Council”, Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, vol. 20, no. 4, pp.16 – 18

Kolb, D 1984, Experiential Learning, Prentice Hall, New York.

Murray, R & Kujundzic, N 2005, Critical Reflection: A Textbook for Critical Thinking, McGill Queen’s University Press, Montreal, Canada.

Pokras, S 1994, Crisp: Team Problem Solving, Revised Edition: A Systematic Approach to Consensus Decision Making. Crisp Fifty-Minute Series. Crisp Publications Inc., Seattle WA.

Rothwell, B & Sensenig, K J Eds. 1999, The sourcebook for self-directed learning, Human Resource Development Pres