Teaching Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Active Learning In Nursing Education

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Active Learning In Nursing Education and Teaching Strategies to Promote Student Engagement

Teaching Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Active Learning In Nursing Education


Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Active Learning, Student Engagement for Active Learning In Nursing Education, Evidence for Student Engagement In Nursing Education, Adopting Teaching Strategies for Student Engagement In Nursing Education, Teaching Strategies.

Strategies to Promote Student Engagement and Active Learning

    Adopting teaching strategies to promote student engagement and active learning is a vital component of the faculty role. An abundant amount of research shows that students who are engaged in active learning are more likely to meet learning outcomes (National Survey of Student Engagement [NSSE], 2013) and apply the concepts in the practice setting (Blau & Snell, 2013). 

    However, a study of a subset of nursing students who participated in the NSSE study found that undergraduate nursing students do not perceive themselves as being engaged in student-centered and interactive pedagogies, compared with students in other academic disciplines (Popkess & McDaniel, 2011). 

    This creates a challenge for nursing faculty in terms of providing learning experiences that capture students’ interest and engage them in active learning. This chapter provides evidence for the benefits of student engagement and offers a description of specific teaching strategies to promote active learning that can be used across all levels of nursing education and in a number of learning environments.

Student Engagement for Active Learning In Nursing Education

   The theory of student engagement has its roots in Astin’s theory of student involvement (1999). The words engagement and involvement have become synonymous in the educational literature over time. The main premise is that highly involved students are more likely to learn academically and develop personally. There are five basic elements of the theory. 

  First, involvement and engagement refer to the investment of physical and psychological energy in learning. 

    Second, involvement and engagement occur along a continuum with different degrees of involvement at varying times. 

    Third, involvement and engagement have both quantitative (i.e., hours studying) and qualitative (i.e., measurement of comprehension) aspects. 

   Fourth, the amount of student learning is directly influenced by the quality and quantity of student involvement and engagement. 

   Finally, the effectiveness of education is directly related to increasing students’ involvement and engagement in the learning process. Student engagement is based on Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education. 

    According to Chickering and Gamson, if educators are able to facilitate student learning through these principles, students are more likely to meet learning outcomes. These principles are: 

(1) encourage contact between students and faculty

(2) develop reciprocity and cooperation among students

(3) encourage active learning

(4) give prompt feedback

(5) emphasize time on task

(6) communicate high expectations

(7) respect diverse talents and ways of learning

  Different types of student engagement activities produce a variety of learning outcomes, emphasizing active participation in the learning process. 

    For example, students who have frequent interaction with faculty are most satisfied with their learning experience and show greater learning outcomes (Hill, 2014; Lundberg, 2014). Students are more likely to be able to cope with the stresses of academic life if they are engaged in academic support systems (Bruce, Omne-Ponten, & Gustavsson, 2010). 

  Student engagement can easily be measured through direct observation and measurement of a variety of academic engagement activities such as the number of hours studying, meeting course competencies, and student satisfaction surveys, among other factors (National Survey of Student Engagement, 2013). 

    The student engagement theory is applicable to nursing education because it directs attention away from the subject matter and teaching technique and toward the motivation and behavior of the student, taking into account its application to nursing practice. 

    This is in line with transformational teaching, today’s view of the psychology of learning, wherein it is the responsibility of the student to be active and engaged in the learning process, and the nurse educator uses a variety of teaching and learning experiences to become a facilitator or guide in the education process (Benner, Stuphen, Leonard, & Day, 2010; Slavich & Zimbardo, 2012). 

   Active learning, a foundational component of Astin’s (1999) theory based on Chickering and Gamson’s (1987) seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education, is fundamental to student learning and requires student engagement.

Evidence for Student Engagement In Nursing Education

    Evidence for the effect of engagement in higher education on student learning has been established through the NSSE (2013). In 14 years, surveys to 1500 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada have measured “student participation in programs and activities, providing estimates of how students spend their time and what they gain from attending college” (p. 6). 

    Student engagement behavior is associated with desired outcomes of colleges. Results of the annual NSSE report (2013) of 335,000 students’ engagement were categorized into five quality indicators. 

    First, academic challenge illuminated the relationship between emphasizing higher-order learning and courses that students perceive as focusing on more complex topics, challenging their thinking skills. 

    Second, learning with peers, or collaborative learning, enhanced student success by facilitating incentives to learn, shared comprehension of material, and support from peers. 

    Third, experiences with faculty affected students’ cognitive growth, development, and retention. Effective teaching practices included courses taught with clarity and organization and student feedback that is prompt and formative. Fourth, the campus environment showed that student interaction with a variety of individuals on campus, such as student services, academic advisors, and administrators, have a positive influence on learning outcomes. 

    Fifth, high-impact practices (learning community, service-learning, or research with a faculty member) were found to increase knowledge, skills, and personal development, and students who used these practices stated that they were more satisfied with their educational experience. 

  Lastly, topical modules (additional questions on topics of interest) showed that academic advising promoted student persistence and success through guiding students to programs and events that promote engagement. Learning with technology, the final module, showed that use of technology was positively related to student engagement and higher-order learning. 

    In a large-scale study of 438,756 community college student engagement (Community College Survey of Student Engagement [CCSSE], 2014), a number of benchmarks were established showing the relationship of engagement to learning outcomes. 

   First, active and collaborative learning led to students learning based on their participation in class, interacting with other students, and learning outside of the classroom. In addition, learning was correlated with the number of terms enrolled and credit hours completed. 

    The second benchmark, student efort, showed that students who spent the time necessary to learn content (time on task) were able to apply themselves to the learning process. 

    The third benchmark, academic challenge, in which students engaged in challenging intellectual and creative work such as evaluation and synthesis, were most consistently associated with positive academic outcomes such as persistence, grade point average, and degree completion. 

   The fourth benchmark, student–faculty interaction, measured the extent to which students and faculty communicate about academic performance, career plans, course content, and assignments, revealing that students had broad effective learning and persistence toward achievement of their educational goals. 

    Lastly, the benchmark for support of learners demonstrated that students performed better and were more satisfied with their learning at colleges where their success was valued, and where positive working and social relationships existed among various demographic groups. The engagement literature reveals four research perspectives for organizing teaching strategies (Zepke & Leach, 2010): 

(1) engaged students are intrinsically motivated and want to achieve their learning objectives autonomously or with others

(2) students and teachers engage with each other and respond to learning when the environment is creative, active, and collaborative

(3) institutions provide support that is conducive to learning with welcoming institutional cultures providing a variety of support services

(4) students work together with their institution to develop social and cultural learning as active citizens. 

    These evidence-based perspectives can be helpful in designing and adopting teaching and learning strategies for student engagement and active learning.

Adopting Teaching Strategies for Student Engagement In Nursing Education

    Faculty are influenced by a number of variables when selecting teaching strategies for active learning (Phillips & Vinten, 2010). Based on Everett Rogers’ (2003) diffusion of innovations model, faculty are more likely to adopt teaching strategies that are compatible with their teaching needs, values, and experiences; whether they can be “tried out” before they are adopted; and whether it is more advantageous to students’ learning needs than other teaching strategies. 

    This evidence based study sheds light on some of the variables that influence educators in adopting teaching strategies and can be taken into consideration when faculty are adopting them for student engagement and active learning.

Teaching Strategies

    Bloom’s revised taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001) can be used to categorize teaching strategies to promote student engagement. The knowledge dimension (or the kind of knowledge to be learned) is composed of four knowledge types: 

(1) factual

(2) conceptual

(3) procedural

(4) metacognitive

    Factual knowledge refers to the basic content students must know to be familiar with a discipline or to solve problems in it. Conceptual knowledge refers to the relationships between the basic fundamentals within a larger configuration enabling them to function together. Procedural knowledge refers to skills, techniques, and methods needed for specific disciplines. 

    Metacognitive knowledge is the awareness of one’s own cognition in addition to cognition in general. Learning objectives and outcomes for the knowledge types can be created using the six cognitive process dimensions of Bloom’s revised taxonomy: 

(1) remember

(2) understand

(3) apply

(4) analyze

(5) evaluate

(6) create.

    Examples of select teaching strategies for student engagement are listed alphabetically in the four knowledge types (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001).

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