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Specialist nursing, a multi faceted discipline, has a plethora of duties, one of which, the role of learning facilitator, a demanding and complex role, requires thoughtfulness and reflection. Careful planning is required to engage the nurse in the learning process and equip him/ her with skills necessary for the clinical setting. Anxiety associated with nursing students’ education and clinical experiences has been documented (Admi, 1997). The Specialist Nurse Practitioner must make every effort to facilitate a rewarding learning experience which will also impact positively on patient care.

Comparing and Contrasting Theories of Teaching and Learning:

The range of teaching and learning theories is as diverse as it is complex. While the aim is always to enable learners to improve upon their practice, and therefore improve standards of patient care, ways of doing this vary widely. There has been a theoretical shift from teacher-centred to student-centred models of teaching and learning, particularly in recent years, with a greater emphasis on collaborative, interactive student learning. This mirrors a shift in the way learning is viewed. Once thought of as a passive process – something done to the learner over which he/she has little or no control – the behaviourist viewpoint, most clearly associated with the transmission model of teaching, it is now though of largely as an active process, most effective when the learners are fully engaged in an interactive teaching and learning approach, the focus of the student-centred development models of teaching. By comparing and contrasting relevant theories the most suitable approach will be selected for the following teaching activity:


Patients Undergoing S.E.M.S.

Aims for Learning:

The potential for learning in practice settings is extraordinary (Thompson, 2004, page 1). Continuing Professional Development within nursing is essential for maintaining high standards of patient care, disseminating good practice methods and developing a learning and teaching culture.

The Dearing Report on Higher Education (National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education, 1997) highlighted the importance of ‘lifelong learning’. For lifelong learning to be effective the learner needs to work towards achieving some skills and competencies (Hinchliff et al., 2004, p.51). The aims in this example will be to foster in learners an understanding of oesophageal cancers, patient management issues, treatments and empathy with patients.

Aims of Teaching:

Working Together-Learning Together (DoH, 2001) discusses the constant development and updating of skills in which all professionals must engage. It is incumbent, therefore, upon the Specialist Nurse Practitioner to develop the appropriate degree of specialist knowledge with which to do this.

Definition of Learning:

The many definitions of learning generally agreed that ‘learning is a relatively persistent change in an individual’s behaviour due to experience.’ (Fontana, 1995, page141).

Learning Theories:


These are based on the idea of stimulus and response leading to conditioning. The teacher provides a stimulus to which a student responds, implying that lea