Teaching Decision-Making Skills to Student Nurses
James Shanteau National Science Foundation
Margaret Grier Joyce Johnson Eta Berner University of Illinois Medical Center
"Today's graduates lack problem-solving and decision-making skills" ( Ruggiero, 1988)
"There are file cabinets full of failed efforts to train decision making" (quote from a professional colleague)
The purpose of this chapter is to present research that addresses the questions raised in these two quotes. Is there a need for specific courses to teach decision making? And, can the decision-making abilities of students be increased through such a course?
There have been numerous efforts to teach decision-making skills through training. Unfortunately, most of these efforts have had little measurable impact (e.g., Lichtenstein & Fischhoff, 1980). There are several possible reasons for this, including (a) use of unskilled subjects, (b) lack of motivation to learn, (c) absence of relevant training materials, and (d) inadequate evaluation instruments.
The research described in this chapter was designed to investigate alternatives to traditional training approaches. In particular, the results of a course are described that involved (a) preprofessional students, (b) a strong motivation to learn, (c) content-relevant training materials, and (d) specially designed evaluation measures.
Although the students in this study were college undergraduates, the findings have considerable relevance for teaching adolescents and young