Moving towards authentic learning in nursing education
Vera Logan lecturer
College of Human and Health Sciences
Title: Moving towards authentic learning in nursing education
Aims and objectives: To share our experience with designing and delivering an innovative teaching session, which utilised authentic learning. The session was evaluated to have had a positive impact in terms of learning and developing confidence by nursing students.
Authentic learning has been pointed out as a contributor to undergraduate nursing students’ satisfaction with their learning journey (Walker, Rossi, Anastasi, Gray-Ganter, & Tennent, 2016). It also provides an opportunity to engage with learning in a meaningful way, in activities that explicitly map the connection between theory and real life clinical practice.
In nursing education, themes are often reduced to individual components and taught separately. For example, nursing students are often taught component of the Nursing process, such as Patient assessment and Planning of care as topics in their own right, rather than as tools to be used intentionally to provide patient care throughout the patient’s stay in hospital. We based our approach on the framework of authentic learning (Herrington & Oliver, 2000; Herrington et al., 2010), trying to provide an authentic context that reflects the way the knowledge will be used in real life.
We created a teaching session on the Nursing process through provision of an authentic patient case scenario, which developed through time and progressed at each station. The students followed the scenario individually through 4 stations (station 1: patient assessment, station 2: planning of care, station 3: implementation of care and station 4: evaluation). This provided the students with authentic tasks and activities, which mirror practice. Besides, it changed the students’ perspective of the individual steps of the nursing process, which was now made more meaningful by enacting the whole process in one session.
At the end, the students were supported to collaboratively construct knowledge through collective reflection and feedback. Feedback when delivered effectively is an invaluable aspect of learning, development and acquisition of new knowledge, skills and competence as it provides an insight into strengths, limitations and areas for development (Klaber, 2012). We successfully integrated feedback within the authentic learning experience and believe that it enhanced the students’ path to development (with the goal being to help the learners identify gaps in their knowledge and reinforce key concepts) and clinical competence.
To ensure that the feedback the students received was constructive, timely and focused to the learners needs, and one that fosters a positive environment that facilitates learners in self-reflection and positive goal setting a structured model for debrief was utilised. The diamond method for debriefing enables discussion of the learning experience through description, analysis and application before bringing the learning back into sharp focus with specific learning points.
The success of sessions delivered through the strategy of authentic learning can be seen through the learner’s evaluation of the sessions, which can be categorised into four themes;
- Skills and knowledge acquisition
- Increased confidence
- Enhanced critical thinking
- Transferability of skills to clinical practice
By introducing innovative authentic strategies we are not only bridging the gap between theory and practice, we are increasing student engagement and building the confidence that prepares the students for an ever-evolving dynamic future in nursing.
Our poster may provide inspiration for teaching not just nursing but other subjects, too. We will discuss the topic with viewers of the poster.
authentic learning, meaningful engagement, student satisfaction
Authentic learning can contribute students’ satisfaction with their learning journey. It also provides an opportunity to engage with learning in a meaningful way, in activities that explicitly map the connection between theory and real life practice.