CSP professional adviser for CPD Gwyn Owen explains how a range of activities, such as visiting museums, can become sensational CPD
Recent articles in the CPD series in Frontline have explored the continuing professional development (CPD) potential of social media (9 April 2014) and of connecting with the CSP (7 May 2014).
This article is designed to help you explore how the content of museums and galleries, radio and television could be used to support your personal and professional learning and development. Members often ask me ‘what counts as CPD?’
The question leads to a conversation about the CSP and Health and Care Professions Council’s (HCPC)) outcomes-based approach to CPD.
What ‘counts’ in an outcomes-based approach is being able to describe and evidence what you have learnt, and how your learning is benefiting you, the people who use your service, and the organisation you work, rather than the number of hours spent learning or the mode/medium of the learning experience.
What that means in practice, is that experiences and resources that are part and parcel of our social world could become a CPD opportunity – depending on how we use them.
This approach is reflected in the HCPC’s examples of CPD activities.
The examples range from structured activities, such as appraisals, in-service training or professional body activity, to more informal activities such as reflective practice, professional or social networking or using television and radio to update knowledge.
Knowing who I am as a learner
So how could a visit to a gallery or museum, or time spent in the company of the radio or TV, become a valuable form of CPD? Part of the answer is knowing how you like to learn.
By knowing who you are as a learner, you will be able to make some informed choices about the learning options available, and what you might need to do to make the most of a specific activity’s CPD potential.
So, do you learn best by experimenting and problem-solving?
If that’s the case, then maybe a session in the interactive spaces in a building such as the Science Museum in London or Techniquest in Cardiff would help you review the physical principles underpinning movement analysis, or the hydrodynamics present in aquatic therapy, for example.
If you’re someone who learns through pictures, photos and charts then why not think about how you could use your local art gallery (or the collections of work available on national gallery websites) or television programmes to explore the human interactions that are part of physiotherapy practice?
Or you might be someone who finds visual information an unwelcome distraction, preferring instead to learn by listening. If that’s the case then why not turn to the radio listings to find out what’s available?
If the timing of programming means that you’re unable to listen ‘live’, then it’s worth checking whether the programme is available as a ‘listen again’ podcast on the radio station’s website.
Sensing my learning preference
Sensory learning preferences are just one facet of who we are, however much experience we have.
As you’re probably aware, many different tools are available to help people reflect on the different elements that make up who they are as a learner.
The VARK inventory is one of these tools. VARK stands for the Visual, Aural, Read/write, and Kinaesthetic (or tactile learning).
We use these sensations when we want to learn something.
Work on the VARK inventory began in 1987, and it has been tested and refined following its release by Fleming and Mills in 1992 (Not Another Inventory, Rather a Catalyst for Reflection. To Improve the Academy, 11, 137-155).
The VARK inventory is freely available online.
Knowing what your sensory preferences are will help you make sense of why you respond to some learning opportunities differently to others.
But I’d argue that your VARK profile can also help you think about how you choose to record evidence of your learning, and the sensory modalities that you use to help someone else learn.
Although you may already have a sense of who you are as a sensory learner, the process of completing the inventory is potentially useful for helping you think through what that might mean for your practice – as a learner and as a CSP member.
Link sensory learning to you practice
Physiotherapy practice is multi-sensory. It requires us to collect, interpret and make sense of what we experience.
This might be visual (watching movement, using body charts, scans and X-rays), auditory (listening to the person’s story), and kinaesthetic (feedback from our own bodies as we handle something, touch a patient or client and read and write information, such as referral letters or medical records), for example..
The process of collecting and interpreting sensory data is key to the process of problem-solving and decision-making.
The VARK inventory can help us to develop a deeper awareness of how we respond to different sensory cues.
This awareness will help us to think about how we perceive and interpret, and respond to, the sensory cues presented by the people with whom we work – whether they are patients or colleagues.
How to use this activity for your CPD
This activity aims to help you explore your learning style and will signpost you to further information and ideas about how you could use museums and galleries, radio and TV to support your CPD.
Visit the VARK inventory and complete the inventory – a simple online questionnaire that will take no more than 10 minutes to complete.
Make a note of your VARK preference before leaving the website.
The inventory and your results are both freely available but you can download or print a summary of your results from the website for a small charge.
Rreflect on the results of the inventory.
If you’d like some prompts to help guide your thinking, then here’s some to get you started:
- is your score an accurate reflection of your approach to learning?
- can you recognise how your sensory learning preferences influence how you engage with different types of learning opportunities? (a practical workshop compared to a lecture, for example)
- are you making the most of your sensory learning preferences in how you record evidence of your learning?
- do your sensory learning preferences shape how you collect and interpret information as part of your problem-solving and decision making processes
- to find out more about how you could make the most of your sensory learning preferences, visit CPD Syd’s guide to using publicly-available resources (such as museums and galleries, radio and tv) to support CPD.
- Syd’s guide offers examples of activities to help you make the most of publicly-available resources.
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