Themes: written communication, communication in group settings
The example of written communication which we have used in this module is an extract from a reflective diary. Reflective diaries (also called learning logs or journals) are often used in practice teaching to encourage students to reflect on their experiences and their feelings. Sometimes, practice teachers recommend that these diaries are kept private - it is then up to students to choose what material they wish to share with their practice teachers. Mostly, however, reflective diaries are seen as tools for supervision as well as for reflection, and students regularly hand these in before meeting their practice teachers.
Nazra's diary entry is not a good example of a reflective piece. It is mainly concerned with her feelings of being out of her depth, and there is very little analysis here, or even reflection on what she has learned from the situation. One helpful way forward might be to ask Nazra to look at her extract again, identifying what she needs to learn to be able to proceed with Paul.
Forms of written communication which are in common usage in practice learning include:
- Agency records
- Agency reports
- Academic assignments/practice studies/practice reports
- Working agreements/learning agreements
- Supervision notes
- Process recordings
- Critical incident analysis
Whatever the writing task, students should be encouraged to write as clearly as possible, avoiding jargon, and attending to the question of who the writing is for. An Open University textbook on independent learning recommends that students should always evaluate their written work before it is completed. They must ask themselves:
- What were my purposes in writing this?
- How well have I achieved them?
- How would I change what I researched, planned and wrote if I repeated the exercise?
- Has working on this led to any ideas or questions that I might follow up? (adapted from Marshall & Rowland 1998: 178)
Communication in group settings
Supervision does not, of course, always happen in a one-to-one context. There are likely to be a range of people involved in assessing a student's work, including a daily supervisor, colleagues, the university, and service users. This means that there will be times when communication has to happen in a group setting, and then all the areas which we have already discussed will be multiplied by the number of people in the interaction.
There is also another issue, however, and that is the way that groups operate to influence the thoughts, feelings and actions of other group members. For more on this, see Douglas (2000). This means that the communication which takes place in groups requires further exploration.