Monday, November 16, 2015

Heutagogy in Oncology Nursing: The Experience of Nurses, and the Factors that Facilitate and Hinder Self-Determined Learning

School of Educational Leadership for Change, Charissa Cordon

Heutagogy is defined as self-determined learning and is an extension of andragogy (Blaschke, 2012; Hase & Kenyon, 2001). It is a learner-centered approach that blends various concepts related to adult learning, double-loop learning, reflective practice, and complexity theory. Nurses are already engaging in this type of learning, however, no published research exists that has explored heutagogy in nursing, using complexity science as a framework. The purpose of this qualitative descriptive study was to explore how oncology nurses were engaging in heutagogy and to understand the factors that facilitated and hindered self-determined learning. I interviewed 13 point-of-care oncology nurses working in a quaternary cancer institution. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Complexity theory was used as a framework. Nurses provided examples of their engagement with heutagogy. The most frequently identified reason for engaging in heutagogy was to keep their knowledge and skills current in order to provide good care to their patients. Participants in this study pursued learning based on their preferred learning style, their existing commitments, and their lifestyle. One of the most frequent factors that either enabled or constrained nurses from engaging in heutagogy was time. Participants also indicated that their previous experiences with self-determined learning were helpful in their subsequent experiences, as they learned about their preferred learning methods and became more confident as learners. Finally, participants indicated that by engaging in heutagogy, they were able to problem solve in new and unfamiliar situations. In order for nurses to effectively apply heutagogy, this approach must be embedded in undergraduate and graduate nursing programs. Nurse leaders play a fundamental role in supporting nurses with their engagement in heutagogy. Improving access to continuing education programs and investing in preceptorship programs are a few strategies for nurse leaders to support nurses with heutagogy. Finally, it would be beneficial to conduct action research in heutagogy to better understand the transformational learning that is occurring for the learner, but more importantly, to better understand how to effectively apply heutagogical approaches to work-based learning in nursing.

Keywords: self-determined learning, heutagogy, oncology nursing, continuing education, lifelong learning, complexity theory, complex-adaptive system

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