Imagine being a first-year nursing student called upon in front of 150 other people to assess a patient with lung congestion. No pressure, right?
Ask the students from Eva Peisachovich’s first-year health assessment course for the answer. They took part in a flipped classroom course that required them to listen to lectures at home and apply what they had learned during classes.
Peisachovich, an assistant professor of nursing, has made a point of incorporating experiential education into her classes in various ways because it is one of her research interests. She chose the flipped classroom model for health assessment because it was well suited to the course.
Case studies that the students viewed online came to life in class, with teaching assistants (TAs) taking on the roles of various patients and the students interacting with them by questioning them about their symptoms. A Top Hat audience participation program made it possible for student participation to count toward their grades, making the course even more interactive.
“There were YouTube scenarios for the patients and the TAs would personify those patients in class,” Peisachovich said. “I trained the TAs and we wrote the scripts together, taking into account all the possibilities that could arise.”
There were also weekly laboratories at the Nursing Simulation Centre that allowed for hands-on experience with a variety of techniques and clinical situations. Every other week, the 150-person class broke into teams of five to work on group assignments.
Although Peisachovich says her methodology had weaknesses – the process became repetitive, for example – she was pleased with the overall success of the endeavour. The average grade increased more than 5.5 per cent over a traditional class.
“These were techniques that allowed the students to learn,” she said. “If they didn’t do the work at home, they wouldn’t be able to handle or apply the concepts and the case studies in class. They also had to use their analytical skills, rather than being spoon fed the information.”
Peisachovich says the classroom case studies simulate real-life clinical settings, helping to prepare the future nurses for situations they could encounter on the job.
“Generally speaking you don’t know who the patient is when you walk into a clinical setting. We need to engage students in scenarios that show what happens in real life. They always need to be thinking on their feet and have the ability to troubleshoot situations. They need to learn how to cope with realities of practice that often do not match the textbook portrayal.” – Eva Peisachovich
“Generally speaking you don’t know who the patient is when you walk into a clinical setting,” she said. “We need to engage students in scenarios that show what happens in real life. They always need to be thinking on their feet and have the ability to troubleshoot situations. They need to learn how to cope with realities of practice that often do not match the textbook portrayal.”
Peisachovich and her colleagues have published an evaluation of this flipped classroom experience in The International Journal of Higher Education, and she plans to offer a revised version of the course again in September 2017. Drawing on lessons learned, it will feature more of a mixture of tools to keep classes from becoming predictable and routine.
“You can use this model in any course,” she said. “You can provide the concepts and theories online and the students get to apply them in class.
“It’s a dynamic way of engaging both teachers and learners where the notion of teaching and learning is truly meaningful.”
By Elaine Smith, special contributing writer to Innovatus.