Being a Learner

How you learn

Your daily experiences help build your knowledge and skills.

Your previous participation and interaction with families, co-workers and other professionals can change the way you handle a situation and/or prepare you for the next new situation.

If you are not challenged to stop and think about your learning, you and your clients may not be getting the total benefit.


The following collection of activities will support you to think about:

  • the connection between work and learning
  • factors that influence your learning
  • possibilities for learning.

My learning history


To understand yourself as a learner by reflecting on how you learnt during your life.

Individual action
  1. Create your own learning history timeline using the following activity sheet: My Learning History (pdf - 18.89kb)
    • When filling in the activity sheet think about something you can remember 'learning' during the different stages of your life. Briefly describe that experience and then try to 'categorise' how you were learning.
    • To assist you to 'categorise' how you were learning, you can use: Examples of Learning Styles (pdf - 26.28kb)
  2. Take a moment to think about (or discuss with colleagues):
    • what does your learning history tell you about yourself as a learner? What is your preferred learning style?
    • what do you find helps you learn?
    • what do you find hinders your learning?
    • what are the possibilities for using different learning strategies in your workplace?
Group action

This activity can be done as a round-robin exercise with a group of colleagues and a facilitator.

Each table represents a particular stage (pre-school, tertiary).

Participants rotate round the room visiting each table. At the table they discuss and fill in a large learning history activity sheet.

The activity sheet on each table relates to the particular stage. Use: Stages – Learning History (pdf - 26.28kb)

Once all participants have visited all tables, a facilitated discussion is held. Use the questions below to draw out some comparisons between the responses:

  • is there a preferred learning style at the different stages?
  • is there a preferred learning style for this group?
  • what may be the benefits to a MCH nurse in having an auditory learning style? (Why is being able to learn through hearing and listening important?)
  • have you ever stopped to think about how your clients or colleagues learn?
  • how do you explain things to parents?
  • how do you explain things to colleagues?

Learning how to learn


To reflect on the notion of “learning about learning” and what this means for the individual.

Individual action
  1. Bill Lucas is a Learning Strategist and Facilitator from England. He poses the following questions to professionals in the many workshops he facilitates:
    • think about what you do when you don’t know what to do.
    • do you fall back on your knowledge of a subject?
    • do you try and remember what you did last time you were stuck?
  2. Take a moment to think about (or share your thoughts with colleagues):
    • what do you do when you don’t know what to do?
  3. Read what Bill has to say about learning how to learn.
  4. Bill Lucas talks about the 5Rs – your learning muscles, these being:
    • Resourcefulness: Knowing what to do when you don’t know what to do!
    • Remembering: This involves getting better at recalling processes and techniques that have helped you in the past and applying them in the present
    • Resilience: Developing staying power so that you can deal with the uncomfortable feelings you will get when you really stretch yourself
    • Reflectiveness: This involves harvesting the meaning from your learning so that you are continuously improving
    • Responsiveness: This involves adapting and changing as you put what you have learned into practice
  5. Take a moment to think about the following questions. The following activity sheet will help you: Learning How to Learn (pdf - 20.25kb)
    • have you ever heard about the 5Rs – your learning muscles – before?
    • can you think of situations when you have used each of the 5Rs?
    • do you use one of your learning muscles more than the others?
    • what might assist you to become a “better” learner?

A portrait of my learning at work


To develop an awareness of your learning opportunities at work by examining the people, the place, the purpose of your work and the processes that are followed.

Individual action
  1. Print the activity sheet: A Portrait of my Learning at Work (pdf - 19.01kb)
  2. Tick the column that most resembles your learning experience
  3. Take a moment to think about (or discuss with colleagues):
    • What is your experience of learning with and from other MCH Nurses?
    • What is your experience of learning with and from your clients?
    • What is your experience of learning from your own actions and reactions?
    • What is your experience of learning with and from other professionals?
    • What processes do you have in place to support your learning?
    • What resources can you draw upon to support your learning?
    • Where do you think that most of your learning opportunities occur?
    • What is the purpose of your learning?
Group action

This activity works well using a “Think Pair Share” approach with at least one other colleague. Think about your experience, pair up with another colleague and share it with that colleague or the wider group.

The activity can be used to identify points of difference and similarity. These can drive discussion about MCH practices and “hot spots” of activity or inactivity. This discussion can help you make sense of your practice and the practice of others. This is a step in the development of supportive learning environments and relationships.

Mentoring - a Way of Learning


To support you to examine the idea and practice of mentoring further.

Individual action
  1. Take a moment to consider or write down a definition of mentoring.
  2. Read and answer the questions on the following information sheet: A Spotlight on Mentoring (pdf - 34.96kb)
  3. Many organisations and associations offer mentoring programs. Below is a list of just a few. To read more about these programs you may wish to visit:
Group action
  1. To further challenge the definitions and understanding of mentoring, undertake the “Assumptions challenge”
  2. Ask participants to move to the corner that most reflects their view. Those who are undecided go to the middle of the room.
    • Participants put forward their view in their small groups and then to the whole group
    • Participants are given an opportunity to shift their position after listening to other participants’ views
    • The facilitator throughout the activity can draw out points of similarity and difference, and compare with the definitions that were examined individually