One of the learning characteristics of the nursing students is the capacity to care for the patients. Professional caring is core to the nursing profession. Nursing students deserve a teaching method that grants them an opportunity to evaluate and challenge personal beliefs and assumptions. Schofield et al. (2013) argue that for nursing students to become registered nurses, they must conquer personal beliefs and postulations. Service learning is one of the teaching and learning methods that bequeath nursing students with the quality of caring for others.
It helps students to acquire knowledge of discrete categories of patients and their needs, therefore taking care of them. Coming across people with different needs acts as an eye opener to learners. The nursing students understand the predicament of the patients by interacting with them. Emotional intelligence is another learning characteristic of the nursing students. Nursing is a tasking and demanding career. The nurses face immense occupational stress that makes them suffer from low self-esteem, sleep disorders, physical disturbance, and irritability among others.
Emotional intelligence is made up of the human skills of enthusiasm, dexterity in relations, compassion, willpower, and self-awareness. According to Por, Barriball, Fitzpatrick, and Roberts (2011), emotional intelligence enables nursing students to navigate the social environment by perceiving emotions as essential sources of knowledge. Por et al. (2011) argue that there is high correlation between emotional intelligence and health behavior. Empowerment is a critical learning characteristic of nursing students. It bestows the nursing students with the power to act on priority issues (Babenko-Mould, Iwasiw, Andrusyszyn, Laschinger, & Weston, 2012). Empowerment allows nursing students to develop skills, knowledge and confidence for practice. In return, the nurses work efficiently and securely in the nursing field. Buxton and Davies (2013) identify nutritional knowledge as another critical learning characteristic of nursing students. Nurses with nutritional knowledge succeed in health promotion and disease treatment and prevention.
Teaching and Learning Methods
In a practice-oriented healthcare line of work, educators ought to use teaching and learning methods that help learners to incorporate clinical skills and knowledge. Nursing students should learn how to apply what they learn in class in the clinical environment. Cant and Cooper (2009) contend that human simulation is a useful educational approach because it involves active learning. The human simulation mimics the reality, therefore giving the nursing students an opportunity to gain skill-based clinical knowledge. The primary objective of simulation is to imitate several or all the critical facets of a clinical context to enable the students to understand the concept and be able to handle it in case it arises (Bruce, Omne-Ponten, & Gustavsson, 2010).
Rourke, Schmidt, and Garga (2010) claim that simulation is an effective teaching and learning method because it can replicate practice, strengthen knowledge and develop proficiency through video debriefing and educator feedback. The effectiveness of simulation as an essential teaching and learning method also lies in its capacity to incorporate four important components of education in nursing. Simulation promotes practical competency through duplication and exercise of psychomotor skills. It also enables nurse educators to offer requisite assistance to students. Rourke et al. (2010) argue that simulation allows nurse educators to tailor teaching methods to the needs of individual students and the nursing context. Besides, it slots in emotional element of learning.
Teacher-Centered and Didactic Method
According to Schaefer and Zygmont (2003), teachers’ opinions on education and their teaching methods form the learning environment. The degree of guideline that a nurse educator gives affects the learning environment. Schaefer and Zygmont (2003) argue that a teacher-centered and didactic teaching and learning method is not suitable for the nursing students. According to Schaefer and Zygmont (2003), a teacher-centered method of teaching encourages dependent learning. The method transforms a student into a passive receiver of information. Besides, the method uses behavioral change to determine if learning is taking place. The teacher-centered and didactic approach gives precedence to formal assessment and does not value informal appraisal methods. According to Schaefer and Zygmont (2003), the teacher-centered approach helps where one wishes to teach a lot of content within a short period. The instructor develops teaching materials according to students’ knowledge. One of the weaknesses of teacher-centered and didactic teaching method is that it focuses on the knowledge to be passed on and not the needs of the nursing students.
Yildirim, Ozkahraman, and Karabudak (2011) emphasize the importance of critical thinking in learning. Yildirim et al. (2011) suppose that critical thinking is useful because it equips learners with requisite skills for understanding the world and the alternatives available to them. The primary objective of education is to generate growth in cognitive development. A majority of the educators assume that nursing students can develop the requisite critical thinking skills by just partaking in class discussion and attending lessons. The teacher-centered and didactic method does not promote critical thinking. The method uses archaic modes of teaching and insists on scientific writing instead of expressive writing.
Facilitative Teaching Method
An effective teaching and learning method is one that allows power sharing between the students and instructors. Nursing students are supposed to be responsible for their learning process. A learner-centered teaching method ensures that nurse educators come up with activities that meet course objectives (Greer, Pokorny, Clay, Brown, & Steele, 2010). According to Bernard (2015a), the use of appealing and captivating learning experiences promotes cognitive engagement. Hence, nurse educators should use online technology, simulation, narratives, art, reflection, and gaming techniques to ensure that students eternalize what they learn (Cant & Cooper, 2009).
The techniques not only allow learners to eternalize a concept but also relate what is taught in class to a real-life clinical situation. Nurse educators are supposed to serve as facilitators of learning and not content deliverers. In other words, an effective teaching and learning method should enhance student self-regulation, accountability, and assessment. Bernard (2015b) identifies the flipped classroom as a facilitative teaching method. According to Bernard (2015b), the method gives learners an opportunity to engage in application activities and problem-solving exercises that nurture cognitive skills.
A Socratic teaching and learning method entails questions and answers. The method is effective because it gives learners a chance to think critically. Schaefer and Zygmont (2003) argue that the best teaching method is one that encourages debate and intellectual challenge. A Socratic teaching method is effective since it promotes autonomy in learning. Besides, the method bestows learners with innovative problem-solving skills and encourages critical thinking. Barron, Lambert, Conlon, and Harrington (2008) accentuate the importance of problem-based learning as a Socratic teaching method in nurse education. The method helps to link the gap between theory and practice in nurse education. Problem-based learning enables learners to think critically through handling various predicaments. Bernard (2015a) identifies student engagement as a Socratic teaching method that creates consequential teaching-learning environment within the nursing field. Student engagement invokes clinical reasoning and nurtures inquiry and problem-solving skills. Thus, the method helps to prepare agile and intellectual nurses.
The primary objective of the teaching and learning methods that the nurse educators use is to endow nurses with skills to care for patients. Hence, the ability to care for others is one of the learning characteristics of the nursing students. Nurses ought to surmount personal assumptions and beliefs to offer quality care (Schofield et al., 2013). It underlines the reason nurse educators use service learning as one of the teaching methods. Emotional intelligence is another critical learning feature of nursing students. The nursing career subjects nurses to immense physical and psychological stress (Por et al., 2011).
For nurses to offer quality care, they must overcome the pressure. Thus, emotional intelligence allows nurses to maneuver the social environment. Nurses require having the power to make decisions on matters that affect their operations. As a result, empowerment is a critical learning characteristic of the nursing students. Through empowerment, students gain confidence and skills to apply in clinical context. Nurses cannot guarantee the health of patients if they are short of nutritional knowledge. Thus, nutritional knowledge constitutes another fundamental learning characteristic of nursing students (Buxton & Davies, 2013).
Nurse educators utilize various teaching and learning methods to equip the nursing students with skills, confidence, and knowledge to handle different kinds of patients. One of the teaching methods is a simulation. Simulation entails active learning. An active learning process involves feedback (Cant & Cooper, 2009). Feedback enables learners to evaluate their dexterities and supervise their advancement towards the acquisition of knowledge and its preservation. Simulation mimics the reality. Therefore, it equips nursing students with skill-based knowledge. Besides, simulation endows learners with practical skills. It allows nurse educators to tailor the teachings to the needs of individual students.
A teacher-centered and didactic teaching and learning method is resourceful in an environment where the educator wishes to teach a lot of content. Nevertheless, the method is criticized because it relegates a learner to the level of a passive receiver of information. Teacher-centered and didactic method values formal appraisal at the expense of informal assessments. Besides, it does not focus on the needs of the learners. Participating in class discussions and attending classes are not enough (Schaefer & Zygmont, 2003). A nursing student should develop cognitive abilities that help in making informed decisions. A competent nurse is one that understands the world and has the knowledge of the different alternatives that health professionals can use to address challenges in their career.
An excellent teaching and learning method should give students the power to control the learning process. A facilitative learning method like the flipped classroom endows students with cognitive skills. Nurse educators are supposed to serve as facilitators (Bernard, 2015b). They are expected to use technology, art, reflection, and gaming techniques to help learners to understand a clinical concept. In a nutshell, an effective teaching and learning method should augment student’s self-regulation, responsibility, and judgment. A Socratic teaching and learning method helps to equip learners with skills in critical thinking. The method entails questions and answers. The answers are framed in a manner that enables students to create mental pictures of the context. The problem-based learning is a good example of Socratic teaching method. The method entails engaging learners in handling problems that are related to their profession (Bernard, 2015a). It helps educators to bridge the gap between theory and practice in the nursing career. A Socratic teaching method must create a consequential teaching-learning environment. The teaching method should invoke clinical analysis and foster inquiry and problem-solving skills, therefore producing agile and intellectual nurses.
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