HealthJune 12, 2017

The secret strategy that promotes active learning in nursing ed

TECH WORLD: As the demand for nurses continues to grow, the industry has found new ways to train their nurses to adapt to an increasingly digital landscape, including online courses.

Active learning has been proven to be the best method of teaching critical thinking in today's nursing students. And case-based learning in nursing education is a key strategy that promotes active learning.

It today's world of healthcare - where technology rules and medical personnel are required to handle a wide variety of patient scenarios in short order - nurses need to be able to think critically to provide safe and effective patient care. Active learning is proven to be the best method of teaching critical thinking,

Nurse educators must find the best ways to prepare new nurses to solve problems and think critically in order to provide high-quality care to patients. Nurses must be able to work collaboratively, analyze data, interpret results, think critically, draw reasoned conclusions and make complex decisions.

And all this comes as current challenges cause nursing to become increasingly more complex.

  • Nursing shortages are reaching critical levels.
  • Nurses are playing a much bigger role in communities outside hospitals and other health care facilities, thanks to the Affordable Care Act and a growing desire for older people to stay in their homes as long as possible.
  • Technological advances require nurses to become even more tech-savvy and able to learn to use new tools as they"re introduced into health care facilities.
  • Nurses collaborate more with other health care providers, again as one of the byproducts of the Affordable Care Act change in the way hospitals get paid for services is changing.

The Case-Based Learning Bottom Line

In all of these challenges and more, one fact resonates throughout: Nursing education programs must change. Nursing programs need to become active learning centers where nursing students are effectively prepared to enter the increasingly complex health care environment.

A study published in the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning examined critical thinking abilities of nursing students from two different curricular approaches, case-based learning and didactic teaching. The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) was used to collect data on critical thinking abilities of the participants. The independent t-test results revealed that the case-based learning participants performed better in the total critical thinking score and all critical thinking subscales than the didactic program participants.

Case-based learning seeks to contextualize learning and to enhance the transition of nurses to practice. This instructional approach adds great value to the nursing education experience since the unfolding process emulates the work environment. Case-based learning develops the ability to practice competently in a variety of healthcare situations.

The traditional (didactic) teaching method usually involves a teacher-centered approach in which the nursing education faculty teach, and nursing students learn by listening. The teacher delivers structured packages of theoretical or practical knowledge complete with analysis, insight, and conclusions, while students are expected to take notes, memorize and master the imparted information Thus, this teacher-centered environment tends to produce shallow thinking in students who primarily rely on rote memory rather than careful understanding of the varied complex practice issues.

In contrast, case-based learning engages students and teachers in analytic dialogue about nursing situations by helping learners analyze an authentic case to identify client problems, compare and evaluate optional solutions, and decide how to deal with clinical situations. Concept-based learning offers students opportunities to deliberate plausible solutions to real-life situations and nursing challenges in a safe environment, with support from both nursing instructors and classmates.

Concept-based learning works well in conjunction with other active learning strategies that enable the learner to take an energetic and engaged role in their own education. Active learning methods that engage students are usually enjoyable, motivational and effective, and retention of knowledge is perceived to be increased.

Case studies often are detailed, describing fairly well-defined problems. Learners can apply their background knowledge as well as new learning to solve the problem. The cases in concept-based learning help build on prior knowledge, integrate data, and consider application to future situations.

5 Tips for Using Case Studies in Case-Based Learning

Rowles and Brigham (2005) suggest the following five guidelines for effective use of case studies:

  1. The case study needs to focus on the most important concepts to be learned.
  2. As case studies may not have one right answer, the teacher should consider alternative responses and ask students analytical questions for further discussion of the case.
  3. The learning environment needs to be open, safe, and nonthreatening to facilitate students’ participation.
  4. All students should be engaged in the learning activity if class size allows.
  5. Summarization of key points is essential to ensure that students take away the most important concepts.

Additionally, case-based teaching should reveal to learners the outcomes of their choices, both positive and negative, to help learners” self-assessment.

Educating nursing students to become critical thinkers is essential in ensuring advanced nursing care and solving complex clinical problems. Deeper thinking benefits patients, nurses, and healthcare institutions. Nursing educators are in a position to elevate the nursing education experience by facilitating case-based learning.

How Lippincott Can Help

Take a step in the right direction with case-based learning. Find out more about how Lippincott's vSim® for Nursing, which is integrated into Lippincott CoursePoint+, can help build clinical reasoning skills in your students.

A rich learning environment that drives course and curriculum success to prepare students for practice. Lippincott CoursePoint+ includes the following integrated features:

  • Digital textbook, including content updates, based on the latest evidence-based practices.
  • Anytime, anywhere access. In addition to accessing Lippincott CoursePoint+ resources online, students can download the eBook version of their textbooks to multiple devices.
  • Interactive learning activities and multimedia resources to address multiple learning styles and give students the opportunity to apply learning. Full online access to Stedman's Medical Dictionary for Health Professions and Nursing provides instant access to the most advanced, content-rich medical dictionary available today
  • Course-specific tools, such as adaptive learning powered by PrepU, to maximize class performance.
  • Real time data to measure students” progress
  • vSim for Nursing virtual simulation for your course area
  • Full access to Lippincott Advisor for Education, providing the latest, evidence-based synoptic content and drug information
  • Training services and personalized support to ensure your success
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