The pedagogical focus(es) of the case study and its/their rationale(s):
The observations took place during the delivery of a Year 1 / Level 4 module: Nursing Practice 1 (Child). This is the first module that is solely focused on Children’s Nursing and it is delivered following their first clinical placement so that they are able to reflect on their experiences and explore their learning needs further. The module introduces the students to the fundamental knowledge, skills and attitudes required of a Children’s Nurse. In this first case study, two different approaches to delivering more complex ideas were explored. The purpose of both observations were to consider how effectively these strategies were in linking theory to practice as facilitated by the Lecturers.
The first approach used gamification to introduce the students to early childhood brain development, the impact of positive and negative influences on the developing brain structure and the possible outcomes for the child.
This session was led by Ilana Pressick (IP) who wanted the observations to focus on the launch of the activity and the efficacy of the feedback and discussion at the end of the game.
The session took place in a lecture theatre with fixed seating and no natural light however this was the only suitably sized room available at this time. It was an early evening session (16:00 – 18:00) and the students had been in university from 09:00. There were approximately 70 students who were divided in to smaller, friendship groups. They were given the task to ‘construct a brain’ following the rules of the game and using pipe cleaners, play dough and straws. Once the brain was constructed, the students were then led in a discussion to identify how effectively built their brain was and what factors contributed to this construction. This was where it was hoped that the connections would be made between the game and the theory of child development.
The flipped classroom approach was the focus of the second observation.
This session was led by Nathalie Turville (NT) who also wanted the observations to focus on the launch of the activity as this contributes to student engagement and to the feedback as two different case studies are used and there is the potential for students to disengage when the other case study is being discussed.
The session took place in a large classroom with natural lighting and movable tables and chairs. The session took place in the morning. The cohort had been divided up so there were approximately 36 students who sat in friendship groups of three students. They worked on one of two scenarios using clinical observation charts and communication tools to identify the deterioration of a sick child, appropriate actions and effective communication. Once the task had been completed, the students then took turn to feedback the answers, using the communication tool to structure their answers as they would be expected to do so in clinical practice.
Cycle 1 summary of our joint learning:
- Both approaches were enjoyed by the two students and they felt that the links were effectively made between theory and practice through the use of discussion and feedback. However, for constructive feedback to occur, a more structured approach and explicit guidance are beneficial to enable deeper learning to take place. From the position of ‘expert’ practitioner (as a Nurse) it is easy to forget that these are potentially new and challenging subject areas to the students. Both student observers perceived the facilitation of feedback differently depending on their life experiences.
- The impact of the physical environment cannot be underestimated and the students identified that the style of classroom set up expectations regarding the nature of the lesson and their subsequent levels of engagement. However, if the learning experience is stimulating or unique then students can be accommodating and understanding.
- The importance of trust and team working within the classroom as this allows students to make mistakes and explore and learn from them in a supportive environment and for staff in trying different approaches. During the second observation, the students were allowed to make an error that subsequently affected the answers in their feedback. This had the potential to cause discomfort to the students involved but the student observers felt that it was handled positively and was a valuable learning experience.
- Students like working in friendship groups however this may not promote optimal learning due to distraction from the task or due to limited experience to share. Both student observers recognise how randomly mixing the students for group work would benefit their learning.
- The value of having a ‘critical friend’ to reflect on the practice of teaching and learning. The student observers were generous in their encouragement of using different teaching strategies and valued the variation in teaching styles. As observers, this experience provided the opportunity to analyse practice, question approaches and beliefs about teaching and learning and also explore the practicalities of delivering sessions to large groups, using different techniques at times and in places that may not be ideal!
Cycle 1 Implications on learning and teaching for staff members:
- Continue to incorporate different approaches to teaching whilst ensuring that the learning is effectively identified and not ‘lost’ in the participation of a new activity. There can be external challenges to implementing different approaches however these can be mitigated and the sharing of ideas is essential to overcoming issues.
- Where the breadth of experience contributes to shared learning and understanding, take the time to put students into non-friendship groups. In focusing on the task and working with new peers, this encourages team working and improved relationships within the cohort.
- Teaching should not be a solitary activity and learning does not happen by chance. They are enriched by having the opportunity for discussion, analysis, and reflection in partnership with teaching colleagues and students.
Ilana and Nathalie’s talk on their case study and their Cycle 1 experience at C-SPACE 2017 conference: