Unpeeling the Onion: Deconstructing the Effectiveness of Two LTA Approaches to Reflective Learning


  • Margaret Conlon Edinburgh Napier University
  • Brian Henry Gould Edinburgh Napier University




Reflection, pedagogy, undergraduate students, mental health


Selecting the most effective methods of integrating reflective practice into undergraduate nursing programmes remains a challenge for educators. This paper explores two pedagogical approaches of reflective learning in an undergraduate mental health nursing programme, with particular focus on developing the core attributes of self-awareness, empathy and compassion. The discussion is explored within the context of nursing in Scotland, which is undergoing transformative change including adapting to an all degree route to nurse regisration. Seismic changes such as these are occurring at a time when the nursing profession generally, and nurses individually, face regular criticism for poor care and lack of compassion. This discussion paper will focus on the necessity of reflective pedagogy in undergraduate nursing programmes in which the expectation is to

create both critically aware and insightful individuals who are able to function in a health care culture that is predominately resource poor, time orientated and outcome focused. Although centred on mental health nursing, the paper also comments on the transferability and relevance of the teaching and learning approach to other professions in which human engagement is the key focus. The competing tensions of reflective practice and economically driven health care organisations alongside the significant professional challenges of emotional competency of nursing are discussed. This provides a background to the exploration of the examples of reflective pedagogy that may also be applied to other health and social care professions.

Author Biographies

Margaret Conlon, Edinburgh Napier University

Margaret Conlon is a lecturer in the undergraduate mental health nursing programme of Edinburgh Napier University. A practice background working in children and young people’s mental health services then led onto her developing an interest in widening student nurses’ experience in practice. Margaret’s interest in inter-professional working grew through leading a pilot for organising practice placements in a way that extends student learning beyond acute care placements.

Brian Henry Gould, Edinburgh Napier University

Brian Gould is a lecturer in mental health nursing at Edinburgh Napier University with an interest in pedagogical approaches that engage students in developing a clear professional identity. Interests also include reflective practice, problem based learning, curriculum evaluation, mental health nurses’ responsibilities under mental health legislation, and the devolvement of clinical leadership.


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