Integrating clinical experiences into classroom education
For many nursing students, the classroom and clinical experience represent two different learning environments. The disconnect between classroom and clinical learning also parallels an important professional need--bridging students’ transitions from nursing school to professional practice (Benner, Sutphen, Leonard, & Day, 2010; Institute of Medicine, 2011). Utilization of an unfolding case study (UCS) in the classroom setting allows the students to participate in a realistic, complex, problem centered activity while learning to think like a nurse. The purpose of this study was to address the challenge to improve teaching and learning by integrating clinical experiences into classroom education (Benner, et al., 2010; IOM, 2011). Although unfolding case studies have been used in nursing pedagogy, there is little empirical research in nursing education to support this interactive teaching strategy. In fact, there are no research studies in nursing that test transfer of knowledge with the use of an UCS in the classroom setting. This quantitative study examined the effects of an UCS on undergraduate nursing students learning outcomes. This intervention study took place in a naturalistic setting comparing a traditional slide lecture (n = 83) to an UCS (n = 98) by testing learning outcomes with the use of a pretest, posttest, and transfer test. A student perception survey was also administered after each teaching session. This study begins to address the gap in the literature by examining learning outcomes and transfer of knowledge. The results of the 2 x 3 repeated measures analysis of variance reveal that students in the UCS group learned at a similar rate as the lecture group. Neither group demonstrated transfer of knowledge on the transfer test. The one-way analysis of variance performed on the survey results revealed that students in both the UCS and lecture group felt that the teaching session was more aligned with the clinical setting than the reading assignment given prior to the teaching session. However, the UCS group did not identify their teaching session with the clinical setting at a significantly higher rate than the lecture group.