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In order for all those who attend to be successful, it is the duty of the educator to provide an experience that is welcoming and sensitive to all cultures, races, ethnicities, and genders. To do this, educators need to be willing to provide multimodal methods of teaching, whether it be through mind mapping, game based learning, or case studies, the use of several different learning styles must be used to reach all different students. The diversity of the students means that the learning styles are all going to be different, based on the cultures and ethnicities or the classroom.
The nursing student population is a very diverse one, with students of all ages, races, cultures, ethnicities, and orientations. Awareness of culture in nursing care dates back to the early 20th century as pioneers of the profession realized the impact of a patient’s social background and of military nurses and their experiences traveling abroad. With this very diverse population, there also comes a varying amount of educational experiences, health care experiences and technological levels as well as varied levels of knowledge, different learning styles, and different learning preferences. With such a vast array of characteristics it is important for the educator to be able to balance the learning needs and abilities with the diversity of the classroom without losing sight of the curriculum goals and outcomes.
How it works
In the nursing education classroom, there can be a generation gap, as can be on the nursing units themselves. Each generation has different needs. The baby boomer generation is the older portion of the student population and may hold other degrees or are making a career change into nursing. They have learned to manage their own learning without supervision and may or may not be comfortable with technology, as this generation did not grow up with it. In general this older generation prefers learning through teacher-centered approaches, such as traditional lecture type learning, whereas younger generations prefer student-centered approaches, preferring a more active classroom environment.
Such is the case with the millennial generation, who needs to be valued, are optimistic, high achievers, and rule followers. This group needs immediate feedback and structure with opportunities to provide their services to others. They are comfortable with technology, as they have grown with it, and are a very diverse group. The youngest of the students would be the Generation Z, who have grown up with technology and are very savvy to its workings. They are primarily learning how to navigate their education on their own, as it is their first time being in the independent type learning situation, which is very different from the high school type environment.
In regards to race, ethnicity, and sex, the nursing profession continues to lack diversity. It has been shown that gender diversity and ethnic diversity are positively and significantly related to performance and that higher education institutions need to implement effective diversity management policies and strategies to improve the effectiveness of gender and ethnic diversity. Based on this, educators have the responsibility to create an atmosphere that is welcoming and inclusive to all by not using a biased curriculum in order to prevent barriers. Men have more barriers, as the field is predominately female. The lack of appropriate male role models in nursing as well as mentors is one of the barriers to men in nursing education.
Those who are english as a second language, may experience barriers to learning as well, including self confidence, isolation, and lack of support. LGBTQ students have to manage derogatory or microaggressive comments in class discussions, which how these types of experiences happen shape their college experiences and beyond. Ethical disparities should be taken into account as well, as there is a large variety of ethnicities that make up the student body and educators should be aware of how these individuals learn best. Despite considerable progress, many institutions still struggle with the more nuanced application of affirmative diversity initiatives meant to serve students. Ensuring multimodal methods of learning may help those with vast multi cultures present in the classroom.
When building a curriculum, it is important to recognize the need for appropriate multicultural education through the use of different learning styles, frameworks, and models in order to best serve the students. The ability to connect to people of differing cultures, races, and ethnicities is a concept that provides the basis of patient-centered care and should be emphasized throughout nursing education. That being said, curriculum needs to utilize different modalities throughout in order to meet the needs of the classroom. Learning styles such as the Visual, Aural, Read/Write, Kinesthetic (VARK), Kolb, Gregorc, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and others should all be utilized. By utilizing a diverse learning environment, it provides students multiple opportunities for success and is supported that a diverse learning environment with a variety of learning modalities would make a significant contribution to the students’ understanding and retention of material when implementing a multifaceted learning environment with a combination of visual, aural, read/write, and kinesthetic modes of learning, which personalizes the learning experience.
With nursing students and their diversity, multimodal methods of teaching are needed in order to address all methods of learning. One strategy that is popular among all students is the use of game based learning. Game based learning is a demonstration of procedural knowledge, which involves the skills, techniques, and methods of how to perform a task. It allows for students to exhibit their knowledge in a manner that is student led instead of instructor led (Billings & Halstead, 2016). The advantages to this is that it significantly increases student engagement and motivation as well as appealing to all age ranges, especially adult learners who take more responsibility for their learning and are able to utilize this process as a way to evaluate their own learning. The disadvantages to this type of learning though is that it may be overwhelming or to those who are uncomfortable with their level of knowledge. It may also contribute to ethical or cultural barriers. The notion that students can better comprehend concepts through a game, especially when integrated with the process-oriented, inquiry based learning approach has highlighted the game-transformed-inquiry based learning approach in support of students’ motivation and understanding.
Another strategy that could be used is mind mapping. Mind mapping is a conceptual learning strategy where students put the central concept in the center and related concepts surrounding. Many teachers perceive mind mapping as relevant, practical and effective for guiding effective student questioning, which can be difficult for some educators. The advantages of mind mapping include a better understanding of how things are related, building long term recall of complex issues, and require conceptual thinking as well as typically appealing to the visual learner. The disadvantage to mind mapping is that, at times it can be confusing, especially to students who have not utilized it prior, and it may be difficult for the auditory learner. But it can be a benefit to the older student population who need to validate their knowledge as well as those students who are managing their learning independently for the first time making student mutually responsible for each other’s questions and answers was found to be the most effective strategy to establish a continuous process of collective knowledge construction.
Another strategy that could benefit nursing students is the use of case study reviews. This type of learning demonstrates metacognition knowledge and is a benefit to those learners who desire peer interaction and validation. Case studies utilize real life situations where students are able to apply the content they have learned in theory, as good case studies build over time, allowing the students to connect previous knowledge to practice situations. Advantages to the use of case studies include the practiced use of problem solving skills and stimulation of retention and recall of previously learned information and application of that knowledge in a real life situation without putting a patient at risk. Disadvantages to case studies are that they require good questioning skills by the educator in order to facilitate learning.
They are also more effective when used with complex situations rather than concrete. Careful consideration needs to be put into case studies prior to taking to the classroom though, in order to prevent barriers with culture, race, or ethnic challenges. These may not be appropriate learning for those who need more direct methods of learning. The general effectiveness of case study use suggests that using these types of examples and explicitly creating a classroom environment to help students engage are worth considering for further development.
In conclusion, providing a welcoming and inclusive environment within the classroom and curriculum is imperative to the student success of learning. Many racial, ethnical, gender, and cultural factors play into the students learning ability, and need to be planned for accordingly. When an educator is able to encompass all aspects of diversity within the classroom, the student is able to experience a greater sense of community, growth, and problem solving skills. As the diversity of education changes, multicultural training is necessary in order to provide that successful experience to all students.
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