Think about a time when you were really engaged in something, the kind of engagement where you lose track of time and experience feelings of joy and satisfaction. You may have felt acutely focused; physically, mentally, and emotionally absorbed in a task. The feelings are pleasant and there are always outcomes: a chapter written, a complicated dilemma solved, an assignment completed. This is what is called flow.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist, coined this term in 1990. In his book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, he writes about his research related to the notion of flow. He describes flow as being ”the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost; for the sheer sake of doing it (Csikszentmihályi,1990, p.11).”
Flow theory postulates four conditions that have to be met to achieve a flow state:
Csikszentmihályi, M.; Abuhamdeh, S. & Nakamura, J. (2005), “Flow,” in Elliot, A., Handbook of Competence and Motivation, New York: The Guilford Press, pp. 598–698
In addition, intrinsic motivation is a key element that leads to experiences of flow. We have to want to engage in the challenging task. It is difficult to believe that anyone has experienced flow when listening to a lecture or completing a worksheet. Flow is more likely to occur when activities are on the higher end of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
So, how does this relate to the development of meaningful e-learning experiences in nursing education? As you review your online or hybrid courses/activities, reflect on the following questions:
Think about some examples from your own experience of teaching and/or learning? What are common elements associated with being in the flow? Is there a sense of extreme focus, joy, feelings of being totally consumed? Contrast that with how you feel when sitting in a two-hour lecture, or watching an hour-long, voice-over PowerPoint. Is there excitement/engagement during these activities? We have been talking for years about making nursing education more contextual, more active, more meaningful: Where are we today?
Faculty who teach in the flow are inquiry based, focus on learning as a process, use instructional techniques that meets different learning styles, use game-like learning with more immediate feedback to foster flow in their students. This is why we must understand what our students know, and what they are capable of. In order to provide the most meaningful learning experiences, we need to match student skill level appropriately challenging tasks that include the appropriate range of formative assessment strategies to assess their level of understanding.
There are obstacles to flow in the current academic environments. Developing curricula to foster flow takes work and effort. We must offer choices to students, design learning activities with the appropriate level of challenge, and give up some of the teacher-centered instruction.
It can mean hard work for faculty to design interactive, engaging e-learning activities. That’s where Lippincott® CoursePoint can help.
Lippincott® CoursePoint is a fully integrated, adaptive, digital course solution for nursing education. Designed to help students understand, retain, and apply course knowledge, Lippincott® CoursePoint works the way students study and learn. Digital text content, adaptive learning powered by PrepU, and interactive course resources like videos and animations, are thoughtfully integrated at the moment students need them to provide content in context.
The integration of this content creates a powerful, personalized course solution for students and instructors alike. The proven capabilities of Lippincott® CoursePoint ensures student success from the classroom to practice.Click here to learn more