From traditional face-to-face to online video conferencing platforms and to any number of clinical environments, it is up to us as educators to consider students and school situations. We need to meet the students where they are, and as they are, to promote critical thinking.
Even before Covid-19, nurse educators were looking for ways to enhance critical thinking in today’s classroom environments. These environments range from a traditional classroom environment, in which students and faculty are all present, to virtual classrooms and clinical environments using video conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Big Blue Button, Google Meet, etc. In the traditional classroom, faculty can control the learning environment including distractions, and use physical activities to engage students in what they are learning. In the virtual classroom environment, there are unique challenges such as environmental distractions and a lack of physical presence to interact with each other and faculty.
The days are long gone when we could get away with straight lecturing for two to three hours during class and expect the students to somehow “absorb” what we were teaching. Today’s students are so used to instant gratification and increasing numbers are kinesthetic learners. Students have always learned from hearing stories, or actually taking care of certain patients in the clinical settings. Regardless of the environment, we need to help the students learn and master the material to support critical thinking.
There still remains a big challenge though for students to connect what they are learning in the classroom to the clinical environments. They tend to see the content learned in the classroom environment as different from what they do in the clinical settings. It is up to us to facilitate that connection to help them apply what they have learned to actual patient situations.
We should be able to help students learn to connect what they are learning in the content, to patient situations. First, they do need some lecture on the material from the faculty member as a content expert. This can be delivered via a pre-recorded lecture that the student listens to, prior to attending class.