Visual assessment and critical thinking in students: Simple teaching strategies to boost observational skills
You may be thinking to yourself, “Hey, that's an easy one.” The highly visual people will get this easily. Some do, some don"t. But that is not the real point of this. The point is to teach discrimination.
“What?” you may ask. I then show them picture two and give them 15 more seconds, then back the screen. I ask them to write down what has changed from picture one to picture two.
Now I introduce picture three, see below. I ask my learners this question, “What do you notice about this patient? You can learn important information from a person's feet.”
Students notice the size, shape, nails, edema, etc. I wait for someone to mention the difference in color of the feet, and then we take a deep dive into, “What does that mean? What could be happening to this patient?” This is where critical thinking is learned, in conjunction with assessment skills. It is of utmost importance to produce nurses who can master safe level of practice, and not just answer NCLEX-style questions correctly.
I know it is impossible to do this with every aspect of assessment and critical thinking, but I have noticed that observational skills have improved with this teaching idea. I have taught the learners to focus, and look for things out of the norm (focused assessment). I know you might also use a similar approach. What are your favorite activities to hone observational skills?
Michele Deck presents nationally and internationally on innovative teaching methods in the field of health care education and training. She is co-founder and chief executive officer of G.A.M.E.S., a company that specializes in seminars on adult learning and interactive training methods, and Tool Thyme for Trainers, a company which supplies innovative and creative presentation tools for educators worldwide. Honors include ANPD's prestigious Belinda E. Puetz Award, election to Sigma Theta Tau National Nursing Honor Society, Business Woman of the Year by the National Business Council, and Best Over All Trainer by Creative Training Techniques Companies. She serves on ANPD's Education committee and was a member of the Editorial board of the Journal for 8 years.