Supporting learners

You have planned, developed, designed and created your learning programme. How will you support learning during and after your programme? How does your programme connect with other learning?

This page looks at:

  • Facilitating learning
  • Supervision
  • Work-based learning
  • Social learning
  • Interprofessional learning
  • Training the trainers
Facilitating learning

Facilitated learning means encouraging learners to take more control of their own learning. The facilitator provides resources and supports learning, rather than ‘lecturing’.  

Effective facilitators use

  • Whole or small group discussion

  • Role-play/scenarios

  • Media eg films

  • Peer to peer learning

For more information on facilitating learning, including managing group work, see the 'Training the trainers' section below.

Supervision

This is a generic overview of some of the concepts and principles of supervision in the clinical context.  Whilst each of the professions will have their own specific definitions and outcomes, effective supervision enables learners to reflect and build upon their competencies and learning experiences through professional support and mentoring.

High quality supervision is an integral component of the support given to learners in improving their learning and development.  Through the use of reflective practice and the sharing of experiences, learners can continue to develop their knowledge and skills, further promoting competence and professional practice.  Such support in clinical practice can lead to improved staff retention, quality improvement, better performance management and improved systems for accountability and responsibility.  The model is often practitioner led and confidential in nature, and may be categorised into the following themes: 

Formative (Educational):

  • skills and abilities development
  • client awareness and understanding
  • reflection on working practice and client care


Restorative (Emotional):

  • reactions and emotions experienced during patient care
  • personal support and emotion management


Normative (Managerial):

  • quality and standards
  • objective setting
  • policies and standards of the organisation.

The actual process involved requires a mix of formal and informal procedures.  The formality of the process provides a structure to the meeting and the informal practices offer a safe, friendly and meaningful experience for the learner in question.  This informality also encourages learners to share and reflect on experiences for continuous improvement and progression. 

Features of a well constructed meeting might include:

  • a consideration of ground rules
  • a commitment to confidentiality
  • outcomes to measure success
  • sharing best practice
  • facilitating new learning opportunities
  • formal educational and emotional support

Supervisor Training

Evidence in the literature suggests that supervisory training proffers an effective and positive outcome to supervisors.  Indeed, an organisation may set competency frameworks and mandate that formal training is implemented for new and seasoned supervisors.  Training may involve experiential learning, didactic teaching, role playing, feedback and online components.

Further Information

Work-based learning

The learning programme you develop is likely to be undertaken as part of continuing professional development, practice education or vocational learning.

Work-based learners also acquire knowledge and skills through

  • daily work experiences

  • knowledge sharing with colleagues

  • professional networks & communities

  • coaching and mentoring

  • conferences/events

  • classroom training

  • web 2.0 tools such as web resources, social networks, blogging

To support work-based learning, you might help individuals to acquire learning/study skills. You could build learning networks and encourage learners to manage their own professional development. 

Further information

For more information on work-based learning, see:

Social learning

The way we learn is not just about access to knowledge: we all learn and know things in different ways depending on our experiences and what we understand as competence in that area.

Human knowing or learning, particularly within the health system is fundamentally a social act: about experiences, perceptions and connections in communities and networks and how these collectively shape our ‘knowing’. There is a natural tendency to focus social learning on social media but social media just adds another avenue (be it increasingly powerful) for the social nature of learning to show itself.

The ability to learn, or learning capability, is the foundation of success for individuals, communities and organisations. The importance of social learning capability was illustrated by a doctor at a WHO event “We know everything we need to know to save 95% of children under five today. What we don’t know is how to increase the social learning capability of societies to make it happen”.

Making sense of social learning at any level is about understanding how best the social structures, be they within real or virtual communities or networks can be supported to connect people in meaningful ways and enhance learning.

Further information

Interprofessional learning

The most commonly accepted definition of interprofessional learning (IPL) is provided by the Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education (CAIPE, 1997 & 2002)

“occasions when two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of care”

The concept of IPL is not new with publications on the topic from the mid 1960s onwards (Barr 2009). Over the past ten years it has become an integral part of many pre- and post-registration health and social care professional programmes throughout the United Kingdom. The driver for this rapid growth in IPL activity is increasing reference to requirements that all health and social care graduates are competent regarding interprofessional collaboration and team working in a variety of settings, and in the delivery of safe effective and person-centred care.

Interprofessional learning is also supported globally. The World Health Organisation (WHO) (2010) proposes the purpose of IPL is to develop collaborative practice through which health workers from different professional backgrounds work together with patients, families, carers and communities to deliver the highest quality of care. This involves professionals engaging with any other person who could contribute to delivering desired health goals. The WHO proposes that this demands educational or learning approaches which enable the development of working together with a common purpose, commitment and mutual respect.

Further information

For further information on interprofessional learning, see:

Training the trainers

If you are an experienced educator and want to facilitate others to enhance any teaching they are doing as part of their practitioner role, you will find the Train the Trainers toolkit very useful. It sets out teaching materials, resources, presentations and other practical guidance for you to deliver a face to face learning programme to health and social care professionals, service users and carers who facilitate learning in the workplace as part of their role.

Delivering these sessions will give you evidence for your own learning and practice as an educator.

The Train the Trainers Toolkit is flexible and set out in eight units:

1. Inter-professional and adult learning

2. Teaching and learning styles

3. Teaching a practical skill

4. Giving feedback

5. Effective group work

6. Writing aims and learning outcomes, and planning a learning session

7. Managing group behaviours

8. How to evaluate