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Strategic engagement for a quality learning experience in practice: Impact on mentors and students

Simpson, Heather M.


Heather M. Simpson


The aims of this research study were threefold. Firstly, to explore the impact of the strategic arrangements and mechanisms to implement and support practice based learning. Secondly, to investigate the selection processes, preparation, support and evaluation of mentors. Thirdly, to explore the impact of mentorship from the viewpoint of mentors, students, managers and educational links within the clinical learning environment.

The study design incorporated both quantitative and qualitative approaches involving a three phased approach engaging three regional sites. The first phase involved a quantitative approach using a survey. Phase one data arose from senior staff in Higher Education Institutions (n = 10) and the National Health Service (n = 22). The results from the survey, which focused on the strategic implementation of practice based learning and the preparation of mentors in Scotland, were used to inform phases two and three of the study. Phases two and three of the research study used a modified grounded theory approach. A range of data collection methods were used to gain information from mentors, Link Lecturers, Practice Education Facilitators, managers and students. Data collection and analysis for phases two and three occurred simultaneously and incorporated the constant comparative method of analysis. Phase two provided data from interviews with mentors across the three regional sites giving a total of 30 with ten participants in each site. Focus groups were conducted with Link Lecturers (n=17); Practice Education Facilitators (n=13); ward managers (n=21) and third year student nurses in the adult branch of the undergraduate programme (n=34).

Three major categories were developed ‘Becoming a mentor to facilitate learning in practice’ ‘Operationalising the facilitation of learning in practice’, and ‘Quality infrastructure optimising learning in practice. From these major categories a core category emerged. The core category ‘Strategic Engagement for a Quality Learning Experience in Practice’ captured the process that mentors, Link Lecturers, Practice Education Facilitators, managers and students perceived as their experience related to the clinical learning environment. A tentative theory emerged which addresses the gap between strategy and operationalisation in order to enhance the learning experience in practice. The emerging tentative theory is closing the strategic and operational gap: strategic engagement for a quality learning experience in practice. A model is provided to illustrate how to manage the interface in order to provide quality learning in practice. The study provided useful insight into learning in practice and the roles of staff within the clinical learning environment with how learning maybe more effectively managed and strengthened.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Nov 3, 2009
Publicly Available Date Feb 24, 2020
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Nursing; Professional practice; Clinical practice; Management; Policies; Strategies; Implementation; Practice based learning; Mentors; Mentoring; Survey; Impacts; Benefits;
Public URL
Contract Date Nov 3, 2009
Award Date 2009-09


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