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Teaching Philosophy Statement: Linda Ferguson

Nursing, U of S - 1999

I believe my role, as a university teacher, is to facilitate learners in their achievement of the goals they have set in their education as nurses and other health professionals. This facilitation includes assisting learners to examine the profession and practice of nursing and to identify those areas in which they need to develop additional skills, new attitudes, values and beliefs, and new competencies. I believe learners are committed to this learning and will devote energy to learning that is relevant to them and their professional goals. My role is to assist learners to identify the relevance of the information and skills they are encountering in their educational programs.

Learners have varied backgrounds, experiences, beliefs, and values. Many learners bring valuable experiences that enrich their professional competencies and practice, and add new meanings and interpretations to learning experiences. Learner diversity enhances the learning situation and stimulates broader understanding of the concepts under discussion.

Learners develop confidence in themselves as learners and critical thinkers as they are successful in their learning endeavours. My role as teacher involves supporting students in the learning situation, including encouraging them to higher levels of achievement and understanding. Students need the support and encouragement of significant persons in the learning situation to stretch their thinking and take risks in their questioning and conclusions. A climate of learning that validates questioning behaviors and encourages critical thought around particular issues is more likely to result in a student who is willing to take those risks and participate more actively in the learning situation.

Active Learning

Learners are highly motivated to gain that knowledge and those competencies that they perceive to be relevant to their roles. Learners demonstrate a high level of commitment to those learning situations which address their perceived issues and needs.

I believe that learners must be actively involved in the learning situation to learn most effectively. Passive learning situations tend to reinforce a dependent role in the learning situation; active learning aids students to gain those skills, which they will continue to use in their professional and personal lives. I find that learning situations that encompass thought-provoking questions encourage students to reflect on the meaning of content, information, attitudes, values, beliefs, and skills. My goal in most teaching/learning situations is to encourage thoughtful reflection, to "prompt them to think!" To this end, I use frequent questions in the classroom and clinical settings and try to select teaching/learning strategies that involve students actively.

Those learners who have limited experiences in nursing need assistance to identify relevant issues in health and client care. My role is to raise their awareness of pertinent issues and to assist them in their examination of these issues. I anticipate that learners will examine values, beliefs, and attitudes intrinsic to the successful fulfillment of roles and will incorporate those values which their perceive support beneficial professional actions.

Learners are more likely to explore issues in a critical manner when they perceive a supportive and encouraging environment for learning. Rather than collecting a variety of facts or content, learners need skills in critical thinking and analysis. Learning experiences should be structured to assist learners to gain those thinking skills needed to collect relevant information and analyze situations. Learners who are actively involved in the learning situation develop their own meanings for their experiences; thus, each learner experiences each situation in an individual manner. My role as a teacher is to motivate students to engage in learning situations and to assist learners to reflect on their experiences, thus making meaning of these experiences to their performance of the professional role.

My interactions with learners are based on my assumptions that learners are highly motivated to learn. Learners come to these learning situations with many different skills and abilities, often with expertise in areas, which I do not have; thus, I can and do learn from my students. Learners can rightfully expect to be respected as individuals in various learning situations. Learners need to be supported in taking well thought out risks in the learning situations: innovation is often associated with some degree of risk.

Critical Thinking

I have organized my courses, both classroom and clinical, to raise relevant issues and have tried to involve students actively in the examination of these issues. I have incorporated learning experiences in cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains to assist learners to develop those skills, abilities, values, and beliefs, which will enable them to assist other individuals in a variety of situations.

I believe these students have the potential to participate actively in the health care situation to strengthen the system through their questions and critical analysis. Students need support and encourage for such participation as students; the valuing of such questioning and critical analysis should continue into professional practice.

I strongly believe that students need skills in, and an attitudinal commitment to, critical thinking in their learning situations and nursing practice. To facilitate lifelong learning, students must be assisted in the development of these skills. They must also develop a belief that those skills and questioning attitude have benefit and are valued by others in the system. I have tried to convey that belief through my actions as teacher.

I have tried to organize the courses I have taught to encourage students to critically analyze various issues and problems. I have also tried to indicate my willingness to question the usual practices in light of research-based evidence or client and learner perspectives. I have encouraged students to do the same.

My commitment to scholarship in teaching My commitment to quality educational interactions with my students has prompted my participation in a large number of educational experiences to develop my personal skills as a teacher. I have participated actively in college and university faculty development programs, culminating in my participation in these experiences as both participant and facilitator. I have also participated in national level conferences committed to excellence in university teaching.

I have also conducted research into factors affecting the teaching/learning situations for students and strategies that excellent teachers use in their teaching/learning situations. I have tried to incorporate the findings of these studies into my teaching interactions with students. I have also facilitated dissemination of these findings through my participation in, and presentations at, provincial, national, and international conferences.

Student Interactions

I believe that students learn from interactions with faculty and other students in non-class time. I have tried to be available and accessible to students who are registered in courses I am teaching as well as those who have completed my courses. I have continuing interactions with many of these students in my professional capacity as a faculty member and as a registered nurse. I have served as faculty advisor to the College of Nursing Student Society and have tried to encourage student attendance at various regional and national professional student organizations.

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