Teaching and Learning Concept and Theories In Nursing Education

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Theories In Nursing Education and Teaching and Learning Concept

Teaching and Learning Concept and Theories In Nursing Education


Theoretical Foundations of Teaching and Learning, Learning Theories In Nursing Education, Behavioral Learning Theories In Nursing Education, Premise Behavioral Learning Theories, Implications of Behavioral Learning Theories In  Nursing Education, Cognitive Learning Theories In Nursing Education, Premise Cognitive Learning Theories, Implications of Cognitive Learning Theories Nursing Education.

Theoretical Foundations of Teaching and Learning

Teaching is a complex undertaking that must always consider the learner, the intended learning outcome, the environment in which it will occur, and how it will be known if learning has indeed occurred. Central to these is the learner. The learners who enter nursing programs are diverse in every way imaginable. They differ from one another in previous education, work, and life experiences and in gender, age, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic status, social support systems, learning style, language, and technological abilities. Each comes with his or her own motivations and expectations. Some may appear disinterested in the class and may have difficulty achieving the expected learning outcomes. The seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education proposed by Chickering and Gamson (1987) addressed this and articulated concepts for teachers to use in their teaching such as learner activity, cooperation, interaction, and responsibility. Adding to the complexity of teaching and learning are changing societal demographics and trends, the constant influx of new information in health care, and the practice of education. Clearly, to teach effectively, the teacher must also continue to learn. This makes the use of educational theories to explain, guide, and even predict teaching practice an imperative. Theory helps to explain the “whys” of the teaching–learning process, thus allowing for a more direct influence on the learner. Applying a theory in the practice of teaching provides a way of understanding these complex learners and the learning processes within the context of escalating new information and the rapid pace of health care change. This understanding is prerequisite for making decisions regarding what concepts and content to include in the curriculum or course, sequencing of learning experiences, and determining learner involvement and methods for assessment and evaluation. Taking the time to consider various theories and applying them as a regular part of the practice of teaching can result in improved learning outcomes and greater learner engagement. This  topic provides an overview of selected teaching–learning theories, their primary premise, and implications for use. 

Learning Theories In Nursing Education

Learning theories explain the complex nature of the interaction of students with their faculty, the learning environment, and the subject matter. Learning theories are descriptive in that they focus on and describe the processes used to bring about changes in either the way in which students perform or the way in which they understand or organize elements in their environment. Learning theories provide the structure that guides the selection of instructional strategies and student-centered learning activities. Faculty's beliefs about learning provide the assumptions that underlie the approaches used in their teaching. Being cognizant of various theories is a prerequisite to effective teaching. When choosing theories to use, faculty must consider those that support the school philosophy, meet student learning needs, and complement their teaching preferences Learning theories derive from work in a variety of fields such as philosophy, educational psychology, higher education, and, recently , neuroscience. In this topic the learning theories are categorized by their paradigms. These include behavioralist, cognitivist, and constructivist views of learning, as well as those derived from humanistic approaches, interpretive pedagogies, human development theories, and the emerging field of neuroscience.

Behavioral Learning Theories In Nursing Education

Ivan Pavlov and Edward Thorndike established the roots for behaviorism in the late nineteenth century with their systematic, scientific investigation of how animals and human beings learn (Hilgard & Bower, 1966). This work provided the basis for what became known as behavioral psychology. According to Skinner's (1953) principles of operant conditioning, the focus is on arranging consequences for learner behavior. A behavior is strengthened or weakened in response to positive or negative consequences. Positive consequences are referred to as reinforcers because they strengthen or increase the frequency of behaviors, whereas negative consequences weaken the behavior by not reinforcing it (Slavin, 1988). Complex behaviors are acquired by shaping them by providing reinforcement. Reinforcement is an essential condition for learning because reinforced responses are remembered. Building on the evolving science of behaviorism, Mager (1962) developed a model for writing highly prescriptive behavioral objectives that consists of three components: specification of the behavior to be acquired, conditions under which the behavior is to be demonstrated, and the criteria for how well the behavior is to be performed. Prominent nurse educators of the 1970s and 1980s who adopted the behavioral paradigm into their works included Bevis, deTornyay, and Reilly. During this time, many programs in nursing education made extensive use of the principles of behaviorism.

Premise Behavioral Learning Theories

The main premise of behavioral learning theories is that all behavior is learned; it can be shaped and rewarded to achieve appropriate and desired ends

Implications of Behavioral Learning Theories In  Nursing Education

Principles of behaviorism are used in classrooms, clinical settings, and learning resource centers. The organization of instruction is directed by behavioral objectives and learning outcomes that can be specified, and behavior can be observed and measured. Behaviorist principles are appropriate for structured situations in which the objectives can be clearly established in a step-by-step sequence and the desired behavior can be defined, quickly learned, and observed. In the behavioralist paradigm, faculty facilitate the learning environment by designing the learning experience (eg, simulations, skills demonstrations) and offer positive reinforcement through ongoing feedback. Faculty's focus is on what the student is doing correctly while making suggestions for improving incorrect behavior. Student attainment of learning goals is monitored by looking for behavior patterns demonstrated over a period. Students use the behavioral objectives or competence statements as a guide for what is to be learned. Students work to achieve and demonstrate the desired behavior and plan the time needed to practice as much as necessary to attain the desired behavior. Student motivation for achievement is obtained from the tangible rewards that reinforce the desired behavior.

Cognitive Learning Theories In Nursing Education

Cognitive learning theories focus on the internal learner environment and the mental structures of thinking. The initial focus on the cognitive aspects of learning is attributed to the work of the Gestalt psychologists during the early 1900s. Gestalt psychologists believe that people respond to whole situations or patterns rather than to parts. Insight is an important concept in Gestalt psychology. Insight, or the “aha” phenomenon, is a matter of perception that is explained as a procedure of mental trial and error that results in a solution. When a person's perceptual field is disorganized, order is imposed by restructuring problems into a better gestalt (pattern); the may restructuring occur through a process of trial and error. Lewin (1951) believed that because human beings have a basic need to bring order to the situation, the motivation to learn is stimulated by the ambiguity or chaos perceived in the situation. Cognitive psychology has several perspectives and approaches that try to explain particular aspects of human behavior (Weinstein & Meyer, 1991). Other theorists associated with cognitive learning theory are Anderson (1980, 1985), Ausubel (1960, 1978), Tulving (1985), and Wittrock (1977, 1986).

Premise Cognitive Learning Theories

Cognitive theorists focus on and emphasize the mental processes and knowledge structures that can be inferred from behavioral indices. Cognitive learning theorists are concerned with the mental processes and activities that mediate the relationship between stimulus and response; the learner selects from stimuli in the environment according to his or her own internal structures (Grippin & Peters, 1984; Slavin, 1988). Cognitive theorists seek the factors that explain complex learning; they are concerned with meaning rather than behavior. In cognitive systems of learning, behavior is not automatically strengthened by reinforcers; the reinforcers provide affective and instructional information. The specific focus is on mental processes that include perception, thinking, knowledge representation, and memory, with emphasis on understanding and acquisition of knowledge and not merely on acquiring a new behavior or learning how to perform a task. Information processing is an important aspect of cognitive learning. In this theory, memory is viewed as a complex organized system in which information is processed through three components of the memory system: sensory register, short-term memory, and long-term memory. The goal of learning is to practice information for retention in short-term memory so that the information will move to long-term memory for later recall and use. Cognitive theories define learning as an active, cumulative, constructive process that is goal oriented and dependent on the learner's mental activities. Learning is an internal event in which modification of the existing internal representations of knowledge occurs. Learning is processing information; it is experiential and formed by a person's experience of the consequences.

Implications of Cognitive Learning Theories Nursing Education

In a cognitivist approach to learning, students have active rather than passive roles in the instruction and a new responsibility for learning. Faculty emphasis is on developing students in how to think (Torre, Daley, Sebastian, & Elnicki, 2006). It is not the transfer of information that results in learning; rather, students must discover meaning by using information processing strategies, memories, and attentional and motivational mechanisms to organize and understand it (Wittrock, 1992).

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