Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives


Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives


Article excerpt


This article is an interpretive analysis of the author's method of teaching nursing to a diverse student body in an associate degree program. Rather than lecturing, the author and her colleagues facilitate small-group discussions, engaging students in communicative dialogue. This method leads to flexibility and openness to student ideas as well as opportunities to share personal stories and dialogue with students. As a result, students are helped to overcome misunderstanding, misconceptions, and misinterpretations of the nursing literature.

Keywords Communicative Dialogue - Critical Pedagogy - Learning Community - Critical Thinking

I have not lectured in any of my classes for over 20 years. In April 2004, I attended the Common Ground of Nursing Education, the second National League for Nursing research conference, to learn more about the pedagogies that are new to nursing. I participated in a small-group discussion in which faculty bemoaned lecturing and the time required to prepare for class. These faculty members spoke of their lectures as content presentations and described them as essential for fulfilling the needs of graduates to enter practice with extensive knowledge. Although many spoke of lecturing as an inadequate teaching method that left little time for teaching critical thinking, problem-solving, and application, they agreed that it was a logical method given their large class sizes, the presence of educationally disadvantaged students, and other demands. * THIS ARTICLE IS A CRITICAL-FEMINIST INTERPRETATION (1) of my experiences at this conference and how I practice teaching. I teach in an associate degree nursing program in which race, gender, and class, and how they influence becoming a nurse, are prominent concerns. Our faculty are proud of the diversity of our student body and the nurses we prepare for a health care system that requires clinicians to think on their feet. Our graduates excel in the NCLEX exam and have consistently exceeded the national pass rate. (Within the last five years, their scores have generally been between 96 percent and 100 percent.) Results of employer satisfaction surveys indicate that our graduates meet or exceed competencies related to professional behaviors, communication, assessment, clinical decision-making, caring interventions, teaching and learning, collaboration, and managing care as compared to nursing graduates from other educational programs.

Teaching in a Small-Group Setting I was hesitant to participate in the conference discussion on lecturing because it was difficult for me to readily identify with the concerns expressed by fellow attendees. It had been a long time since I prepared any lectures. The nursing curriculum with which I am involved has been designed using conventional pedagogy (outcomes or competency-based) to reflect the adult learner, career mobility, and competency-based testing.

The unit of instruction is the module. Each semester has 14 to 15 modules based on behavioral, cognitive, and psychomotor objectives that coincide with simulated and clinical laboratories and class discussions (2). All of the teachers in a specific course have the modules, which reflect current nursing practice and are written by faculty for the week's content.

Every week, each module accounts for three clock hours of traditional didactic content carried out in small-group discussions. Groups involve 10 to 20 nursing students with a faculty member serving as facilitator. In addition, students participate in two to three hours of on-campus laboratory time and six to 14 hours of clinical per week, depending on the nursing course. According to my state's nursing practice law, a maximum of 10 students may work in a clinical group. Thus, I will have the same students for class, in the on-campus laboratory, and at the clinical site. In some courses, I may have the same group of students for the entire semester.

The small group provides the ideal setting to learn with students while discussing and presenting the "necessary" didactic material. …

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