With the patient care and hospital industries evolving so quickly, the way we approach nursing education and classroom learning styles should adapt and grow, too — right? A singular approach of teaching concepts and theories, or the “old school” way, still has its place, but the benefits of implementing active learning strategies in nursing education are impossible to ignore.
The benefits of using active learning strategies in nursing education
Simply presenting course material may provide short-term value, but physical practicing, experiencing, and learning through active engagement helps the roots of that material grab hold. Today's nurses are tasked with effectively communicating with multiple departments through different technology platforms while making critical decisions across a spectrum of patient scenarios. It's not an easy job!
Educators who use active learning strategies in their nursing programs are able to teach to a variety of learners: visual learners, auditory learners, tactile learners, and yes, even those learners who have difficulty remaining seated. But what's more, students are able to learn in a way that most closely simulates real, on-the-job nursing situations, making for a more seamless transition into the workforce.
Active learning strategies to try in your nursing classroom
Okay — so now that you understand the benefits of using active learning strategies in nursing education, try implementing some of the following activities to encourage active learning among your students:
1. Pre-class assignments
Prior to teaching a concept in class, ask your students to research key terms, review patient assessments, required medications or drug classes, and exemplars related to the concept. This will not only help students feel more prepared during class, but it typically leads to a more involved and engaging class discussion.
2. Unfolding case studies
Repetitive PowerPoint presentations can be dry. Try incorporating case studies that include visual cues, lab tables, and patient quotes to encourage discussion among students. This keeps those “necessary evil” slideshows engaging and forces students to apply book knowledge and think critically about real-life examples.
3. NCLEX® practice questions
Working NCLEX practice questions throughout your curriculum will have amazing long-term benefits on your nursing students when it comes time to buckle down and study leading up to the big exam. Have students answer example NCLEX questions individually and then guide and encourage a larger class debate on correct and incorrect answers. Adaptive learning systems like Lippincott's adaptive learning system, PrepU, is jam-packed with NCLEX practice questions and gives students a unique learning experience based on their level of knowledge. It also gives teachers the ability to see exactly where each student in the class is at in the course.