1: Variables Influencing Teaching and Learning
Readiness seems at first glance
to be simple and straight
forward-is the learner ready to learn or not? However, readiness is not
as simple as it seems; it has several dimensions. We might expand the
question to ask, " Does the learner have the experience, desire, and
physical and mental ability to learn what I'm trying to teach?" This
expanded question includes all three aspects of readiness: experiential
readiness; emotional readiness; and physical and mental ability.
As the label implies, experiential readiness is based on the learner's
- Cultural experiences
- Developmental experiences
- Educational/learning experiences
The learner's culture always
interactions, we're just more aware of it when the learner's culture is
different from that of the majority, or when the teacher and learner
are members of different cultures. While language is an important
component of culture and can be a critical barrier to effective
patient/family teaching, it's important to remember that there are
other components of culture that can influence teaching and
learning. Beliefs about
health, illness and treatment, family roles, and responsibility for
decision making are examples of cultural differences that often present
a challenge in health teaching.
refer to those experiences that come
with maturation. Again lets' consider this as a question, "Has the
learner had the developmental experiences to be ready to learn what I'm
trying to teach?"
and teens are ready to learn about sex and related issues in some
women are ready to learn about menopause symptoms, symptom management
parents are ready to learn about caring for the baby, and maybe about
parenting in general.
experiences refer to mastery of
information and skills which are prerequisite to what you're trying to
teach. This includes information and skills learned in both formal and
informal learning situations, and ranges from a single skill to mastery
of a set of information and/or skills.
College algebra is a prerequisite to statistics in many
In this case there is a package of prerequisite knowledge and
skills-the concepts and rules taught in college algebra.
Knowing the steps in the nursing process is prerequisite
to developing a care plan using the nursing process.
Remember the cognitive learning theorists-here's an application.
Identifying the steps of the nursing process is a lower level on the
cognitive processing hierarchy than applying the nursing process.
The ability to manipulate a syringe and medication vial
are prerequisite to the ability to draw up an IM or SQ medication.
Inability (or limited ability) to
read makes it difficult for
many people to learn what we're trying to teach in health care. This is
not to say that we can't teach without using written materials, but,
let's face it, we often depend on written materials for some if not
most all of our teaching. If you work with many patients who have low
literacy skills, you've probably learned or developed strategies for
teaching these people effectively. In that case, the following article
may be a review, or you may decide you don't need to read it. The
article "Low Literacy Skills Needn't Hinder Care" describes the problem
of functional illiteracy in the US, and offers practical strategies for
identifying and teaching people with low literacy skills.
Schultz, M., Low Literacy Skills Needn't Hinder Care, 2002
Emotional readiness is what we more commonly call motivation. "Does the
person have the desire to learn what you're trying to teach, and the
energy to invest?" Note that motivation, or emotional readiness,
involves more than just whether or not a person wants to learn. S/he
must also have the energy to invest in learning. This probably makes a
lot of sense to you right now-talk about readiness!. As busy adults
with multiple responsibilities, you may often find that you don't have
as much energy as you'd like to invest in this or other courses you're
taking. Obviously this is also an important consideration for people
who are experiencing the physical and emotional energy drain resulting
from health problems and treatment.
The final component of
readiness is the learner's physical and mental
ability. In this case we're talking about structure and function, not
knowledge and skills. Physical and mental ability is to some extent
genetically determined-our talents or "gifts" and our limitations.
However, within our individual limits, physical and mental ability can
be increased or decreased. Changes occur over time-some are purposeful,
some are normal effects of aging, and some are the brought about by
illness and treatment. In health teaching, we may have to delay some
teaching until the learner's physical or mental abilities improve, or
we may have to accept that he/she may never have the ability to learn
some information or skill, and look for alternatives such as teaching a