Active learning has been proven to be the best method of teaching critical thinking in today’s nursing students. And case-based learning in nursing education is a key strategy that promotes active learning.
It today's world of healthcare – where technology rules and medical personnel are required to handle a wide variety of patient scenarios in short order – nurses need to be able to think critically to provide safe and effective patient care. Active learning is proven to be the best method of teaching critical thinking,
Nurse educators must find the best ways to prepare new nurses to solve problems and think critically in order to provide high-quality care to patients. Nurses must be able to work collaboratively, analyze data, interpret results, think critically, draw reasoned conclusions and make complex decisions.
And all this comes as current challenges cause nursing to become increasingly more complex.
In all of these challenges and more, one fact resonates throughout: Nursing education programs must change. Nursing programs need to become active learning centers where nursing students are effectively prepared to enter the increasingly complex health care environment.
A study published in the International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning examined critical thinking abilities of nursing students from two different curricular approaches, case-based learning and didactic teaching. The California Critical Thinking Skills Test (CCTST) was used to collect data on critical thinking abilities of the participants. The independent t-test results revealed that the case-based learning participants performed better in the total critical thinking score and all critical thinking subscales than the didactic program participants.
Case-based learning seeks to contextualize learning and to enhance the transition of nurses to practice. This instructional approach adds great value to the nursing education experience since the unfolding process emulates the work environment. Case-based learning develops the ability to practice competently in a variety of healthcare situations.
The traditional (didactic) teaching method usually involves a teacher-centered approach in which the nursing education faculty teach, and nursing students learn by listening. The teacher delivers structured packages of theoretical or practical knowledge complete with analysis, insight, and conclusions, while students are expected to take notes, memorize and master the imparted information Thus, this teacher-centered environment tends to produce shallow thinking in students who primarily rely on rote memory rather than careful understanding of the varied complex practice issues.
In contrast, case-based learning engages students and teachers in analytic dialogue about nursing situations by helping learners analyze an authentic case to identify client problems, compare and evaluate optional solutions, and decide how to deal with clinical situations. Concept-based learning offers students opportunities to deliberate plausible solutions to real-life situations and nursing challenges in a safe environment, with support from both nursing instructors and classmates.
Concept-based learning works well in conjunction with other active learning strategies that enable the learner to take an energetic and engaged role in their own education. Active learning methods that engage students are usually enjoyable, motivational and effective, and retention of knowledge is perceived to be increased.
Case studies often are detailed, describing fairly well-defined problems. Learners can apply their background knowledge as well as new learning to solve the problem. The cases in concept-based learning help build on prior knowledge, integrate data, and consider application to future situations.
Rowles and Brigham (2005) suggest the following five guidelines for effective use of case studies:
Additionally, case-based teaching should reveal to learners the outcomes of their choices, both positive and negative, to help learners’ self-assessment.
Educating nursing students to become critical thinkers is essential in ensuring advanced nursing care and solving complex clinical problems. Deeper thinking benefits patients, nurses, and healthcare institutions. Nursing educators are in a position to elevate the nursing education experience by facilitating case-based learning.
Take a step in the right direction with case-based learning. Find out more about how Lippincott’s vSim® for Nursing, which is integrated into Lippincott CoursePoint+, can help build clinical reasoning skills in your students.
A rich learning environment that drives course and curriculum success to prepare students for practice. Lippincott CoursePoint+ includes the following integrated features:
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