A teaching portfolio is a specific tool designed for documenting and communicating strengths and accomplishments of a particular teacher. It is commonly developed and used by different groups of people (involved in varying fields of education-related activities) with the aim of assessing performance during an educational program (Birks, Hartin, Woods, Emmanuel, & Hitchins, 2016; Kim & Yazdian, 2014).
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From this perspective, the major objective of any teaching plan is to potentially improve the quality of teaching because it serves as the foundation for reflection on a completed teaching program as well as constructing a comprehensive plan of action for the further professional growth and development (Sinner, Wicks, & Rak, 2015). The specificity of teaching portfolios is the fact that it is commonly used in nursing education (Sidhu, 2015). More than that, it contributes to the possible significant improvement of learning outcomes due to turning the learning process into more efficient, thus making the achievement of learning objectives easier and faster (Dubé & Ducharme, 2014).
Because the main objective of the teaching portfolio is to foster personal development and the overall professional performance improvement, it can be constructed in different ways based on the aims of educational initiatives. It means that there are no specific requirements to the structure of the document. Still, in most case, teaching portfolios include such elements as the overview of teaching activities and accomplishments, description and evaluation of knowledge assessment tools, justification for selected techniques and assessment methods, and reflection on the completed work (Sidhu, 2015).
Another significant element of the teaching portfolio is a detailed plan of action due to its central objective – enhancing personal development of an individual. At the same time, the main requirement to a teaching plan is the representation of the connection between the practical steps that were taken and active theories commonly used for enhancing the learning process (Herinckx, Munkvold, Winter, & Tanner, 2014; Waltz, Jenkins, & Han, 2014).
Based on the specificities of teaching portfolios mentioned above, the document at hand will incorporate the description of different aspects of a teaching plan as well as the reflection on the completed work – practical steps taken to bring the designed teaching plan to life. In particular, it will address different learning and teaching styles, describe and justify topic selection, as well as the choice of assessment tools and teaching styles, identify learning objectives and explain ways to achieve them, assess the effectiveness of the learning and teaching processes from the perspective of cognitive theory in nursing education, and involve the reflective section developed in accordance with Gibbs’ reflective circle approach.
Session Content and Plan (Justification)
This section of the teaching portfolio aims at describing the foundations of the teaching plan and providing a rationale for selecting them. In particular, it will address the following aspects of the practical steps: the connection between the developed teaching plan and practicum, knowledge assessment methods, teaching and learning styles, topic justification, and learning objectives.
Teaching Plan and Practicum
A teaching plan is a comprehensive document that is developed keeping in mind the specificities of learners as well as the environment of learning – social factors affecting learning outcomes and contributing to achieving learning objectives (Kloh, de Lima, &Reibnitz, 2014).
In this way, the teaching plan should focus on specific learners’ needs – deploy approach centring on learners. It means that participative learning should be enhanced regardless of the specificities of the learning environment. The rationale for making this decision is the belief that the participative learning process is the best option for improving the overall learning outcomes, as well as making the achievement of learning objectives easier and faster. It can be explained by the fact that it maximises benefits for learners and helps them not only obtain new knowledge but also develop communication and critical thinking skills necessary for any professional involved in nursing (Latta, Tordoff, Manning, & Dent, 2013).
More than that, the teaching plan should clearly identify learning objectives as well as the steps necessary for achieving them. It is essential for obtaining a better understanding of the expected outcomes of lectures and discussions that are clear for both educators and learners. From this perspective, the involvement and description of learning objectives, as well as the means for achieving them, is the most critical element of the teaching plan, as it determines chances for the practical success of the educational program (Lee & Daugherty, 2016). Here, it is essential to point to the fact that the identification of learning objectives should be based on knowledge assessment tools and inseparable from steps that will be taken in future to achieve them (Fowler, 2014; Wonder & Otte, 2015).
The practice under consideration is a lecture on cerebrovascular accident. It incorporates a discussion and PowerPoint presentation in order to contribute to the potentially higher chances for achieving learning objectives and improving learning outcomes. Here, it is essential to mention that there are some budget issues, as it is necessary to print questionnaires for assessing the learners. However, they are insignificant.
During the lecture and discussions, I was the educator. As for the learners, they were both undergraduate nursing students as well as those nurses who are already practising. The lecture took slightly more than 30 minutes. Each learning objective was associated with a particular volume of theoretical information followed by an opportunity to ask questions in order to maximise the outcomes and improve the quality of presented materials.
Knowledge assessment is critical for obtaining a better understanding of learning outcomes and concluding whether identified learning objectives were achieved. Nevertheless, it is imperative to assure that knowledge assessment is associated with students’ needs and the specificities of the learning environment in order to guarantee that the measurement of outcomes is realistic and the potential benefits of the educational program are maximised (Fowler, 2014).
Within the framework of this educational initiative, the specific needs of learners include the necessity to have the access to the latest knowledge about stroke, develop practical skills related to diagnosing and treating it properly, and incorporating evidence-based techniques into practice in order to improve the quality of patient care and their health outcomes (You et al., 2013). It means that knowledge assessment is not only an integral part of the teaching plan but also an inseparable element of the lecture because it is directly associated with the potential changes in the plan necessary for the improved outcomes and addressing specific needs unforeseen during developing the teaching plan – unexpected knowledge gaps that should be filled during the lecture.
Within the context of this educational program, pre- and post-testing are selected as the major method for assessing learners’ knowledge (Norman, 2012). To assess the learners, printed questionnaires are used. They include 5 questions – one per each learning objective. They are analysed after the completion of the lecture. This tool was chosen because it is concise and direct. More than that, it is one of the methods that is extremely helpful for measuring the outcomes and efficiency of the lectures because the results of the post-testing can be easily compared with the results of the pre-testing, thus helping to measure gains in knowledge (Delucchi, 2014).
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In this way, the chosen method is beneficial for finding out whether any knowledge gaps have been filled during the lecture and discussion (Norman, 2012). Based on the specificities of this approach, the objective of pre-testing is to identify the existing knowledge gaps. It is paramount in order to make sure that the proposed materials will be of both theoretical and practical value to the learners. As for the post-test, it will measure the effectiveness of the class (Branji, Gottesman, de Grave, Steinert,& Winer, 2012).
Regardless of the fact that knowledge assessment is the central aspect of the teaching plan, it is critical to point to the significance of the selected topic. The ability to diagnose and treat cerebrovascular accident – stroke – can be explained not only by the serious health-related consequences, including death, but also the connection of the topic to the overall improvement of health outcomes (Hsieh, Lin, Hu, & Sung, 2017).
More than that, it is essential to mention that even though it is imperative to pay special attention to personal development and growth, focusing on the repetition of theoretical material is as well important, especially in the case of critical health concerns, such as stroke. From this perspective, making sure that nurses – both graduate nursing students and those already practising – are familiar with the fundamental theoretical knowledge regarding stroke and know how to address it properly is paramount for improving their overall performance. In this way, continued practice, as well as the demonstration of comprehensive theoretical knowledge and refreshing it, is the integral element of nursing education (Dubé & Ducharme, 2014).
That being said, the necessity of focusing on studying causes and treatment of stroke is associated with its central role in the overall wellbeing of the community and improved health outcomes of community members that are inseparable from nurses’ performance and competence.
There are different teaching techniques, and achieving the most positive outcomes of educational programs is commonly associated with developing a unique combination of different teaching styles and applying them to teaching. Still, regardless of the specificities of a teaching style, in any case, it is selected based on specific learners’ needs and the cognitive theory in nursing. The first factor is evident because it determines the necessity of identifying the most effective way of addressing specific needs of all learners belonging to a particular group. As for the connection between the teaching style and the cognitive theory, it can be explained by the differences in learning styles that are individual for all learners and may affect learning outcomes as well as the ability to achieve particular learning objectives (Blevins, 2014).
It means that some students are more efficient learners when the information is visually represented (for instance, as a PowerPoint presentation), while others give preference to the oral communication of theoretical materials (lectures and discussions).
As for discussions, they are connected to the increased efficiency of the learning process because they contribute to the active involvement of the majority of learners in the learning process, thus potentially improving their learning outcomes and helping fill in the existing knowledge gaps. This teaching style is referred to as active learning (Kroning, 2014). Nevertheless, regardless of the positive influence of the so-called active learning on the overall learning outcomes and achieving learning objectives, especially in nursing education, this style is not appropriate and efficient for all learners due to the individual preferences mentioned above (Herinckx et al., 2014).
That is why the combination of active learning and visual representation of theoretical materials (PowerPoint) was chosen as the foundation for the lecture under consideration. The motivation for this choice is the desire to satisfy the needs of all learners as well as achieve the main objective of any teaching style – maximise the expected outcomes by filling in the existing knowledge gaps. Apart from the effectiveness of combining teaching styles, incorporating the PowerPoint presentation is not only technically beneficial but also serves as a metaphorical safety net in the case of potential complications connected to the human factor, such as forgetting some critical theoretical details or getting stressed because of the atmosphere in the class (Kothari & Pingle, 2016; Kroning, 2014).
Just like teaching styles, learning styles as well vary based on the individual specificities of personal development, skills, and background of the learners. That is why they should be kept in mind while communicating theoretical materials and taking steps to achieve learning objectives (D. A. Compton & C. M. Compton, 2017). The differences in learning styles are inseparable from the ability to perceive information effectively based on the apprehension of materials communicated via different information channels (for instance, visual or auditory). These preferences are connected to one’s personal experience as well as critical thinking skills (Rassin, Kurzweil, & Maoz, 2015; Nostratinia & Soleimannejad, 2016).
Based on these differences, the combination of teaching styles was selected for addressing all learning styles of the learners belonging to the group – visual, oral, and auditory. In addition, this step was taken to enhance flexibility of learners because, just like teachers can be flexible in adapting teaching styles so that they correspond with the specificities of the learning environment, the same is true for learners that can alter their learning styles in order to achieve learning objectives in accordance with the provided material (Gemmel, 2012; Li, 2014).
As mentioned earlier in this section, identifying and describing learning objectives is critical for maximising the effectiveness of the prepared educational program. Within the framework of the program, five distinct learning objectives were determined. All of them are of equal value to obtaining a better understanding of strokes as well as the way to address them properly. More than that, it is imperative to note that the representation of materials related to achieving each of the learning objectives mentioned above was limited in time in order to guarantee that the time limit for the lecture – 30 minutes – was adhered to and no unnecessary details were included.
In this case, it is essential to point to the fact that all of these goals are short-term ones because the level of obtained knowledge may be measured right after closing the lecture. Still, it is paramount to mention that they cannot be perceived as long-term ones because, even though they are directly associated with nurses’ competence, it is impossible to measure changes in professionals’ performance at the end of the educational initiative and conclude how nurses treat patients with stroke in real life.
That being said, on the completion of this session, the learners will be able to explain the definition of stroke, identify signs of a possible stroke, explain steps for general evaluation and stabilisation of patients with a stroke, demonstrate knowledge and skills to perform stroke diagnosis, and discuss treatment of patients following stroke.
Explain the definition of stroke
This step is the shortest one. It is connected to defining cerebrovascular accident and stating that it is a medical term standing for stroke. In general, the idea is to point that stroke is a health concern connected to the stop of bloodflow in one’s brain caused either by blockage or rupture of blood vessels (Kimura et al., 2017). For improving learning outcomes, this step is supported by the PowerPoint presentation. The drive is to make the learners aware of the definition of stroke as well as demonstrate its cause – by including several pictures showing blocked and ruptured blood vessels that commonly lead to this critical health condition. By achieving this objective, the learners will be able to explain what is a stroke.
Identify signs of a possible stroke
In the second question, special attention will be paid to the signs that are commonly associated with the possible stroke. This step is as well characterised by the inclusion of the PowerPoint presentation in order to address all potential differences in learning styles. The focus is made on such signs of stroke as feeling sudden weakness in one side of the body, droop in face muscles, and incoherent speech (Kent & Thaler, 2015). Achieving this objective is associated with the ability to identify these signs.
Explain steps for general evaluation and stabilisation of patients with a stroke
In this instance, the focus is made on the criticality of a timely evaluation and stabilisation of a patient with possible stroke. It is identified the special attention should be paid to signs mentioned above and prompt reaction to a pre-hospital notification. As for the evaluation, stress should be laid on the necessity of conducting a CT scan, measuring blood pressure, and essential neurologic assessment. As for stabilisation, in some cases, rapid sequence intubation is critical for guaranteeing airway protection and wellbeing of a patient (Jauch et al., 2013). The ability to explain all of these steps is the main criterion pointing to achieving this learning objective. In this case, the main activities and some pictures demonstrating technical skills (intubation) are shown in the presentation.
Demonstrate knowledge and skills to perform stroke diagnosis
During this step, the motivation was to identify procedures necessary for diagnosing stroke. As mentioned above, diagnosis is based upon the first signs, CT, blood pressure, blood tests, and neurologic assessment. In particular, abnormal levels of blood clotting, changes in blood sugar and vital blood chemicals may point to a stroke. A CT scan can show a stroke. The same is true about using MRI (Jauch et al., 2013). Here, it is vital to include all physical health determinants (for instance, blood pressure, clotting, etc.) and pictures of CT scans and MRI that show stroke for supporting words with visual information. So, demonstrating knowledge of all procedures helpful for diagnosing stroke is a success criterion.
Discuss treatment of patients following stroke
Even though the success of treatment is associated with a timely diagnosis, choosing appropriate treatment plan is as well critical. Therefore, it is paramount to point to different treatment plans that are commonly used to help patients with strokes, such as blood glucose and blood pressure control, maintaining a patient in a supine position, cardiac monitoring, and thrombolytic therapy (Jauch et al., 2013). Discussing their efficiency is a success criterion. Just like in the case of the previous question, special attention is paid to demonstrating the mentioned position as well as efficient medicaments for treating the patient.
Assessment of Learning and Teaching (Justification)
This lesson was developed based on the postulates of the cognitive theory of learning that were used for the justification of almost all choices made during developing the teaching plan and sharing knowledge with the learners.
Cognitive Theory in Nursing Education
Cognitive theory was developed on the basis of behaviourism. However, unlike behaviourism, the focus is made on one’s mind and individuality for making sense of the presented materials and achieving particular learning outcomes (Chen et al., 2016). From this perspective, specific attention is paid to learners and their needs so that it is possible to present educational materials in an effective and appropriate way and reach all of the learners (D. Chambers, Thiekotter, & L. Chambers, 2013).
Because the theory is based on the perception of information, it is essential to enhance involvement in the learning process in order to increase its effectiveness (Sousa, Formiga, Oliviera, Costa, & Soares, 2015). In this way, the most appropriate approach is that referred to as active learning because it is one inseparable from the participation in knowledge communication and acquiring more knowledge (Chen et al., 2016).
Based on the specificities of cognitive theory of learning mentioned above, it is evident that the stress during the lesson should be laid on understanding rather that repetition of the material. That is why all information was shared with the learners through different learning channels and, after communicating knowledge, the group was given an opportunity to ask questions. This initiative was necessary for maximising the understanding of the educational material as well as making sure that the learners are involved in the process thus developing new meanings and potentially improve the level of their knowledge (Sousa et al., 2015). More than that, the focus is always made on the meaningfulness of knowledge (Chambers et al., 2013). That is why different channels for sharing information were incorporated and the learner-centred approach was chosen for conducting the lecture.
Fieldwork Report (Reflection)
Reflection is an essential element of the teaching portfolio. It is the foundation for developing a comprehensive plan for the further personal and professional development as well as improving the quality of teaching – two central objectives of the portfolio (Jacobs, 2016; Sinner, Wicks, & Rak, 2015). There are different techniques for completing reflection sections. However, Gibb’s learning cycle is one of the most efficient ones (Fowler, 2014). Therefore, the reflective section of this teaching portfolio will be developed based on Gibbs’ theory. That said, the following aspects will be included: description, feelings and thought, evaluation, analysis, conclusion, and action plan (Heyler, 2015; Husebo, O’Regan, & Nestel, 2015).
Description is the first stage of the learning cycle. According to the author of the theory, describing all events is the foundation for understanding and analysing them (Nicole & Dosser, 2016). The conducted lesson was a thoroughly planned educational initiative. In addition, it was developed in a way to avoid any social environment considerations. In this way, language pointing to bias (gender, ethnic or socioeconomic) was used. All materials represented during the lecture were prepared based on scholarly sources in order to make sure that they are relevant, and nursing practice is directly associated with human wellbeing.
To make the learning process focused on a learner, different teaching techniques and channels for sharing information were incorporated. In particular, knowledge was communicated orally (as lecture materials) as visually (as the PowerPoint presentation).
In addition, there were pre-tests to assess the initial knowledge of the learners and post-test to measure the effectiveness of the lecture. They were conducted in the form of printed questionnaires, addressing different theoretical aspects of stroke, such as definitions, signs, treatment plans, and diagnostic procedures. More than that, special attention was paid to a discussion so that opportunities for understanding the shared knowledge were maximised. Finally, all necessary equipment was prepared and set up before the class to make sure that no time was lost because of technical issues.
Feelings and Thoughts
Although I was well-prepared, I felt nervous at the beginning of the lecture. It can be explained by the lack of confidence in the correctness of the selected teaching style and having little knowledge of the environment I was going to work in as well as the specificities of the learners. More than that, I was slightly stressed because I was not sure whether 30 minutes would be enough for sharing the material in detail and answering learners’ questions, if any.
However, as the lecture began, all my worries faded away because it was easy to establish the contact with the group that made me feel more confident. All in all, I think that the lesson was successful because there were no difficulties in communication and technical issues. Moreover, the post-test results demonstrated that the lesson was effective that made me feel even more comfortable. To obtain results and analyse learning outcomes, the findings of pre- and post-testing questionnaires – the number of correct answers to designed questions – were compared after completing the lecture. Because after the lecture, the learners gave more correct answers than before it, the program is perceived as successful (see questionnaire form in Appendix 1).
Based on my feelings, as well as the results of post-testing, it is evident that the outcomes of the lesson are positive. It can be explained by knowledge gains after the lesson, as post-test results were higher compared to pre-testing. In addition, most of the learners appeared interested in the demonstrated materials, as they were attentive and actively involved in all of the discussions after reviewing each question related to the topic. I relate their interest to preparing a PowerPoint presentation and an opportunity to ask questions. As for my performance, I evaluate it as positive because of the interest in my materials and the overall positive feeling I had during the lecture.
According to Gibbs’ learning cycle, analysis should be conducted after breaking the whole experience into several components (Nicole & Dosser, 2016). From this perspective, preparation, process, and outcomes will be analysed. The preparation was complicated due to the necessity to present materials in a concise manner, create a presentation, and select an appropriate teaching style. However, as it turned out during the lesson, efforts were not vain because the teaching style and learning objective were selected appropriately, as no significant modifications of the plan were necessary. As for the outcomes, measuring them by means of pre- and post-testing turned out to be a relevant choice because it enhanced the interest of the learners, as I was one to demonstrate my initial interest in improving their knowledge that made them more active and fostered their participation in the learning process and discussion.
Based on the feelings and analysis sections, I can say that I am satisfied with the outcomes of the lesson. It is true from both emotional and educational perspectives. Emotionally, it helped become more confident in my communication and teaching skills. Educationally, it pointed to my teaching talent, as the materials I prepared were helpful for refreshing or gaining knowledge, according to the results of pre- and post-testing. However, it is my subjective opinion of the situation, and I cannot say whether the learners were satisfied with my lesson and teaching style. Regardless of responsiveness to the prepared materials, there was no feedback to my teaching style.
Moreover, I believe that having more time for representing the prepared materials would be more beneficial because it is connected to a potentially more active discussion and an opportunity to answer more question, thus obtaining even more positive learning outcomes. At the same time, there were fewer questions that I expected there would be. It means that the learning process was less active than expected. Nevertheless, regardless of the mentioned weaknesses, I am satisfied with the lesson and believe that it is the combination of oral and visual materials that made it efficient.
Although I feel positive about lesson outcomes, there are some gaps to address. For instance, it is essential to think of the ways to collect meaningful feedback from learners in order to enhance personal development. To achieve it, the idea is to include some questions regarding expectations and perceptions of the teaching style so that there is some information that can serve as the foundation for the further growth. Moreover, I believe that it is essential to develop some initiatives for fostering student involvement in a discussion so that all of the learners are engaged in a dialogue, not only some of them.
For instance, devoting 3 minutes at the beginning of the lecture (for instance, after filling in the questionnaires) for introducing themselves, may make the learners less shy and motivate them to participate in the further dialogue. That being said, although the overall experience is positive, I plan to use the abovementioned techniques for making the future lessons even more effective.
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Questionnaire for Pre- and Post-test
Please, answer the following by marking the correct answer with an X (there may be more than one correct answer).
|1.||What is a stroke?|| Cerebrovascular accident |
A health concern connected to the stop of bloodflow in one’s brain
A condition caused either by blockage or rupture of blood vessels
Obstruction of bloodflow
Heart damage that results in death
Necrosis of different muscles
|2.||What are the signs of a possible stroke?|| Overall weakness lasting for several days |
Sudden weakness in one side of the body
Droop in face muscles
High body temperature
Loss of appetite
No visible signs
|3.||How to diagnose a stroke?|| Check pupils |
Measure body temperature
Measure blood pressure
Conduct a CT scan or MRI
Conduct a neurological assessment
Monitor changes in blood chemicals
|4.||What steps are necessary for stabilising a patient?|| Sequence intubation |
Level of blood sugar
A CT scan
|5.||What are common plans for treating patients with a stroke?|| No need for hospitalisation |
Maintaining a patient in a supine position
Blood sugar and blood pressure control