Active learning strategies in classroom teaching: practices of associate degree nurse educators in a southern state
The complex role of today's nurses warrants higher levels of critical thinking and clinical judgment skills. Critical thinking is recognized as an essential component of nursing practice by the National League for Nursing (NLN). Nursing graduates must be prepared to practice as competent healthcare professionals in a highly complex, diverse, and ever-changing environment. Critical thinking is crucial to providing safe, competent, and skillful nursing practice. Important decisions related to patient care require nurses to master critical thinking skills. Critical thinking skills can be developed with practice. Nurse educators are obligated to create learning environments that support critical thinking. Not only is it important what students learn, but equally important is how they learn. Traditional teaching methods should be transformed to improve learning experiences and facilitate lifelong learning. Teaching strategies that involve experience by "doing" and dialogue with "others" will promote more significant learning. There is a lack of evidence of consistent teaching methods among nurse educators. Nursing graduates with an associate degree outnumber those with a bachelor's degree but overall do not perform as well on the nurse licensure exam as baccalaureate graduates. The purpose of this dissertation research was to examine which teaching methods community college associate degree nurse (ADN) educators in a southern state were utilizing in the classroom to enhance student learning and develop critical thinking in nursing students enrolled in fundamentals and/or medical-surgical nursing courses. The researcher sought to answer six research questions: 1) What teaching strategies are community college associate degree nurse educators who teach fundamentals and medical-surgical nursing courses using in the classroom to enhance student learning and develop critical thinking? 2) What barriers are encountered when utilizing ALS in the nursing classroom? 3) What are the perceived benefits of utilizing ALS in the nursing classroom? 4) Is there a difference in the frequency of utilization of teaching strategies that involve experience by "doing" and experience by "observing"? 5) Is there a difference in the frequency of utilization of teaching strategies that involve dialogue with "self" and dialogue with "others"? 6) What is the perceived effectiveness of teaching strategies used by associate degree nurse educators in the classroom to enhance student learning and develop critical thinking?