Professional Pest Controller Magazine Issue 95

21 May 2019

Reflective learning in pest management

Training | PPC95 May 2019

When BPCA Registered launched in January this year, it offered a number of new approaches to continual professional development for employees of BPCA members. One of those new approaches was around unstructured learning and reflection.

Training and Development Manager, Karen Dawes, explores the ways that pest management professionals are incorporating reflection into their personal development plans.

The more reflective you are the more effective you are

Unstructured learning takes the form of learning outside the traditional, formal classroom training environment. BPCA Registered recognises that the most valuable learning experiences come from the learning that occurs during a pest controller’s day-to-day activities and their involvement in the wider industry. Examples include:

  • Non-technical reading
  • Watching TV/media relevant to role
  • Informal on-the-job training
  • Technical support
  • Informal staff meetings
  • Informal mentoring or coaching.

A change of tack

Many professional CPD schemes have changed from requiring evidence of participation in formal education and training programmes, to using reflective learning to gauge the level of knowledge and understanding gained by the individual. This is because there is a recognition that traditional formal learning routes alone do not necessarily lead to improvements in professional practice. It is commonly acknowledged that, in many cases, much of what is taught in the classroom or online is forgotten and little is embedded in work practices.

It is entirely possible to attend a training course without necessarily learning the outcomes intended by the programme. This may have something to do with the learning styles of individuals, a lack of engagement on the day or simply that candidates didn’t understand what was being taught.

Reflective learning cycle for pest management

Experience, coupled with knowledge and skills creates competency and professional education alone can no longer be seen as a career-long statement of professional competence. Changes to modern professional CPD schemes reflect this and acknowledge that a great deal of valuable learning takes place outside of formal educational structures and programmes.

The important thing to consider is that unstructured learning should be targeted to the individual’s personal need for development. It should be planned and coordinated with other learning to ensure that by the end of a set timescale an individual has achieved the development that was intended rather than simply collecting a specified number of points.

Reflective learning is thinking about (or reflecting upon) what you have done. It is closely linked to the concept of learning from experience, in that you consider what activity you have done, what the outcome was and then decide what, if anything, you might do differently next time.

Tell me and I will forget show me and I may remember involve me and I will understand

An important part of reflective learning is a growing awareness of the opportunities for development. Talking to colleagues, staff meetings and discussions with technical experts all provide the opportunity to learn.

Reflecting on what was discussed, and what additional knowledge was gained, enables you to put the learning into the context of your wider development plan. Keeping a diary of activity and a record of your reflections enables you to evaluate your overall learning over a period of time and helps you identify areas of learning that require further development. 

Reflective learning in action

Kelly Farrant of BPCA member company Pest-Tech, is keen that his employees take ownership of and responsibility for their own development.

He feels very strongly that CPD should be targeted to the needs of the individual technician. While he will work with them to support that development, he wants them to recognise and acknowledge areas in which they need to develop. He wants them not only to think about where their development needs to be but also to recognise when they are learning.

For example, one employee hadn’t yet done any rabbit work so Kelly took him with him to a job he was doing and spent time mentoring him. They covered behaviours and characteristics, indication and signs of activity, methods of control, and different forms of trapping along with all of the health, safety and legislative considerations relating to the work being carried out. The training included a practical assessment of the technician’s work on the day and also a return the following morning to assess the success of the treatment.

When one employee asked him what to do in a specific situation, Kelly advised him to do some research, look in the BPM manual, think about it, use his experience to think about what he might do. Later he was instructed to come back to him with his solution and Kelly would let him know if he was on the right track or whether there were other things he needed to think about.

Kelly adds, “Learning this way ensures that people are really learning because they are experiencing the learning and it’s being embedded as they learn. It also supports meaningful discussions about their personal and career development, including at appraisal time.”

Education is not the learning of facts but the training of the mind to think

This approach is ideally suited to the model BPCA Registered uses. It encourages a planned and focused approach to CPD and moves the culture of CPD within pest management away from a “points collection” exercise.

Through the BPCA Registered scheme, Kelly and his employees are able to use the unstructured approach to:

  • Add their own CPD points
  • Upload some photos or videos of what they have done
  • Reflect on what they have learned and how it will benefit them going forward.

Their CPD diary will help them to visualise where learning has taken place and what other learning is needed in order to achieve their planned development.

Want to join BPCA Registered?

Is your company already a member?

All full BPCA members can apply for their staff to be on the BPCA Registered individual recognition scheme. Contact our BPCA Registered team now and find out how you get involved.
01332 225 114

Not a member yet?

BPCA Registered is a member-only benefit. Your company can apply for full membership with BPCA and then choose to take part in BPCA Registered.
01332 225 112

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