Understanding How to Deliver Effective Nursing Education
As facilitators of nursing education, how can we best ensure that our learners are processing the new knowledge delivered to them through our educational programs? Designing sessions with this in mind should be a fundamental component of how we plan and facilitate education.
Xu (2016) suggests ten strategies to improve nurses’ learning:
Strategy 1: Lecture
Despite being sometimes considered passive or boring, lecturing is believed to be a time-efficient, cost-efficient, effective way to present large amounts of new information to groups of learners. The ability to utilise different presentation techniques (e.g. slide-shows, videos etc.) can mean that students may find this approach to learning fun.
Strategy 2: High-Fidelity Simulation
Very realistic clinical scenarios help nurses to develop competence, teamwork, confident and critical thinking with minimal risk of harm to clients.
Strategy 3: Concept-Mapping
This learning strategy helps learners to note the ways that different ideas interlink. Concept maps can help students acknowledge their current understandings and form new ideas. Concept maps help learners to organise or process their knowledge logically.
It is suggested that this visual learning technique promotes critical thinking, analysis and evaluation. Learners also develop an understanding of their knowledge gaps and future learning needs.
Strategy 4: Online Courses
Online learning is helpful to nurses due to its flexibility, accessibility and cost-effectiveness. There is also a wide array of new and fresh content that can be found online.
Strategy 5: Games
Games in nursing education promote a positive, fun, engaging environment that increases motivation and interest of learners. Games can foster critical thinking skills and can be combines with other learning techniques such as lectures. Games can be played using various formats, even mobile apps.
Strategy 6: Role-Playing
Role-plays are not the same as simulations because they are not scripted and involve improvisation. Role-plays are important in nursing education as they facilitate the practice of communication and conflict management. It is important to debrief following role-playing to offer support and reflection, as well as further learning.
Strategy 7: Jigsaw Classroom
This technique involves making ‘home groups’ to complete tasks. A member is chosen to gather data and return the information to the home group. This strategy helps learners to increase their listening skills, engagement, and empathy. Again, it is imperative that there is an opportunity for thorough debriefing following the activity to ensure that support, reflection and increased learning can ensue.
Strategy 8: Case Study
Case studies are stories that are realistic and complex, that usually involve a conflict or issue that needs to be resolved by the learner. The aim is to close the gap between theory and practice, and improve action-planning and critical thinking. The educator needs to inform the learners of summarised suggestions to resolve the case study after the learners have had an opportunity to work on the case themselves.
Strategy 9: Debating
This approach facilitates critical thinking, alternative perspectives, and an opportunity to practice verbal communication and higher order of learning. This approach can help the learners develop research skills, and clear presentation of their ideas or arguments. Debriefing or discussion following the debate can help to provide learners with support, feedback, collaboration and critical thinking/evaluation.
Strategy 10: Problem-Based Learning
This approach involves giving learners an opportunity for learning through self-directed study, as well as teamwork. The educator may ask questions about a scenario and provide learners with feedback.
Learning is unique to the individuals’s needs and is therefore not ‘one size fits all’ (American Psychological Association 2017).
As nurse educators, it is important that we recognise this and select appropriate teaching strategies in order to engage our learners, ensure that they effectively process the information that we are teaching them, and to deliver high-quality education.