Teaching: Timing – Part 3 – When to assign the reflective writing assignments

This post will address when to start the students with the reflective writing “Baggage and Beliefs” section of the Study Guide

For those unfamiliar with the Study Guide, you can have a peek inside by using this link to view a sample of the Beliefs and Baggage” exercises.These exercises encourage students to explore their personal experiences with the topics covered in the Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care. By first exploring their own beliefs and biases, students can acknowledge and manage the perspective from which they provide care. As dying and death can be spiritually and culturally dense issues, its quite important for caregivers to be able to be respectful of different practices.

In a previous post  I indicated that one disadvantage of giving the Essentials resources to students early in the program is that they may be forgotten on a corner of the desk : ( A disadvantage to teaching HPC at the end of the program is that students may mistakenly believe that HPC is only useful at the end of life.These two problems can be addressed with a single solution.

Plan the Reflective Writing assignments from the Study Guide into the homework throughout your program. This will assist students with opening the Essentials resources, prevent them from being forgotten AND enable students to see the relationships between different modes of care throughout the program. Instructors teaching the materials in the 2011-2012 year reported that assigning the reflective writing early meant that the students were 1/3 finished the Study Guide before the module began. Students were able to discuss their reflections and values throughout the program. And that the last module before practicum was not so rushed!

Reflective Writing will assist students to become aware of their own biases and personal issues. This provides a framework for exploration of issue that arise throughout the program and not just in the hospice palliative care education. Any students requiring support in this time will have access to instructors during the exploration.

The Reflective Writing exercises are a gentle way to begin exploring the topic of death and dying. This approach can diminish resistance to learning in this topic and decrease overall anxiety.

There are two things that you will need to remember in order to start the Reflective Writing exercises early:

1. Order the Essentials in Hospice Palliative Care resources early.
2. Insert the Reflective Writing exercises early in the program.

 

Summary of Advantages and Disadvantes of Assigning Essentials Reflective Writing Exercises Early in the Program

Advantages Disadvantages
Learning hospice palliative care may be easierless daunting if introduced gradually  If you plan to introduce early you will need to make sure the college orders these early
Students engaging in reflective writing benefit from greater depth of learning and understanding of their own self and practice
Students become more aware of their personal issues and values surrounding end of life issues
Students coping with difficult personal experiences may find the reflective writing and new knowledge is helpful
 Reflective work requires time and energy for processing, which takes time and processing this personal material may be best when spread over several months
Instructors can decrease barriers to learning this material by introducing reflective writing early
Students requiring extra support and time to cope with materials will have access to instructors while still in the program Students coping with difficult personal experiences may find they need extra personal support as they reflect and review materials
Instructors will need to plan and assign the reflective writing and the podcasts early

The benefits of assigning the reflective writing earlier in curriculum are clear. Instructors teaching the materials in the 2011-2012 year reported that assigning the reflective writing early meant that the students were 1/3 finished the Study Guide before the module began. Students were able to discuss their reflections and values throughout the program. The last module before practicum was not so rushed!

On the disadvantages side, the instructors need to plan, and to make sure the colleges order the materials earlier. When the students require support, it is important for the students to know who they can talk with about their concerns.

In the next post I will discuss when to teach this module in the overall program.

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