THE GOAL OF THIS NURSING EDUCATION CON- TINUING EDUCATION PROGRAM is to provide nurses with information about changes in nursing education that influ- ence how today’s students are being prepared for practice. After studying the information presented here, you will be able to:

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Describe four teaching strategies that nurse educators use to meet the learning needs of diverse groups of students

Identify trends in healthcare and education that challenge educators to prepare students for changing RN roles

Discuss the rewards and challenges of being a nursing faculty member

By Rosalinda Alfaro-LeFevre, MSN, RN, ANEF

“The job of the teacher is, as it has always been, to make learning so compelling that people find it more satisfying to learn than to attend to any one of the score of competing possibilities.”

— Carol Ann Tomlinson, EdD, professor and chairwoman of educational leadership, foundations and policy at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education1

knowledge, teaching essential skills and inspiring students to set high standards for patient care. Today’s faculty faces unparalleled challenges as they prepare students for increasingly complex nursing roles in a rapidly changing world. This module discusses innovative approaches educators use


to meet the challenges of transforming education and preparing nurses who will succeed in this millennium. It also describes forces driving changes in nursing and nursing education, how faculty meet the learning needs of diverse students, and the rewards and challenges of being a nurse educator.

Not your mother’s program Gone are the days of sitting in three-hour lectures trying to stay awake after pulling an all-nighter. Educators today work to promote meaningful, interactive learning by using a variety of strategies. From using technology to designing collaborative learning experiences that focus on “real world” issues, educators aim to ensure that their students remain engaged in learning every step of the way.

Technology impact Not surprisingly, technology affects what happens in today’s class- rooms. Laptops, iPads, smart phones, Web-based videos, webinars and other uses of the Internet are commonplace.2

Many programs

use e-learning management systems, such as Blackboard. These systems let faculty members give online examinations and quizzes, use software to identify plagiarized papers, and post resources for reinforcement and enrichment. Students have easy access to ma- terials and information, such as grades, lecture materials, readings and syllabi. Students also use handheld remote devices, clickers, to let the instructor know immediately how well they understand a lecture. (With clickers, students key in answers to quizzes given during lectures. The instructor has a receiver device through which he or she can see immediately how many students passed the quiz.) In addition, many instructors record lectures so students can listen to them on their iPods or smart phones.

ehind every good nurse is an inspirational educator — or perhaps many. As gatekeepers who ensure safe nursing practice, faculty members have a rich history of providing

Online discussion boards allow students to post assign-

ments and information for classmates and faculty. The ability to share information promotes great online discussions and allows constructive peer evaluation. Blogs (online personal journals) facilitate peer support and can document individual reflections on courses for faculty review. Wikis, collaboratively constructed websites that allow content to be added and edited, are used by students to share information and work together on reports and projects.2

Interactive teaching strategies using

computer-based instruction — including computer-assisted instruction, computer simulations, interactive video instruc- tion and tutorials — promote active learning. Technology also affects students’ clinical learning. Students use smart phones and personal digital assistants to access information about disease processes, evidence-based nursing, and drug and treatment information.

Creating learning cultures Increasingly, schools today are accountable for creating a learning culture that embraces the motto that “everyone teaches, everyone learns.” Building learning cultures — school and work environ- ments that encourage learners and employees at all levels to ask questions, share information freely, and create teaching/learning opportunities — is the foundation for developing critical thinking, improving outcomes and keeping patients safe.3

Concept-based curriculum Responding to the call for education reform, many schools of nursing are considering changing to a concept-based curriculum.4 Concept-based curriculums aim to promote critical thinking and reduce content overload by teaching big ideas that can be trans- ferred from one situation to another. For example, a student in a concept-based curriculum may learn the concepts of oxygenation and inflammation in adult nursing, and then when they get to pediatrics, discuss how these change in children’s bodies. In the past, content focused on facts. Concept-based curriculums focus on making sense of those facts. Faculty can’t possibly teach ev- erything, but they can teach the big ideas. Content can change. Concepts stay the same. Successful implementation of concept-based curriculums re-

quires educators to transform learning from traditional teach- er-focused delivery of information to student-centered teaching in which students are engaged actively in learning. As part of curriculum development, faculty must select the concepts, com- petencies and exemplars on which to build courses and base content. Then they must organize the concepts in a way that facilitates learning. This is challenging intellectually, and takes a lot of work and a commitment to making changes.

Simulation and debriefing With the use of high-fidelity human simulators — life-like man- nequins that mimic many of the human body’s processes, such as heart rate and blood pressure — the worlds of laboratory and clinical learning merge. Using simulators, students can practice complex assessment skills, and hone their ability to set priorities, make decisions, and take appropriate action when things go wrong. Simulated experiences offer a controlled-learning envi-

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