Creating a Learner-Centered Environment in Nursing Education

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tawna Cooksey-James, PhD, RN
College of Nursing & Health, Wright State University, Dayton, OH

Learning Objective 1: learn specific strategies that promote a learner-centered environment.

Learning Objective 2: see how WebCT® can be used to enhance courses and function as a strategy that promotes a learner-centered environment.

A learner-centered environment employs strategic activities that focus on the learner instead of the teacher. WebCT® is a technology that incorporates online access that enhances classroom discussions and eases obtainment of course materials.  The use of WebCT, along with other strategic activities, may promote the learner-centered environment in nursing education.  The purpose of this study was two-fold:  1) to explore the activities used to promote the learner-centered environment, and which included WebCT®,  and 2) to examine the use of WebCT®, both from the learner’s perspective. The research design was qualitative descriptive and the method used an open-ended written survey.  Opinions were generated from two classes of nursing students taking a graduate level health policy class representing a broad range of clinical backgrounds and age groups.  Data was analyzed using content analysis.  Findings indicated an overall positive response to the use of WebCT®, with individual responses specific to the activities used to promote a learner-centered environment.  One challenge that emerged was the use of groups and the size of groups for various activities.  Findings generated from these students indicated that while activities that included group work may not be appreciated during the working phase, it became a valued learning experience by students later.  However, group size should be limited to no more than three students.  Group sizes of four or more students presented multiple levels of difficulties for student learning.  This finding stands in contrast to typical group sizes of five to ten per group.  The use of WebCT® as a technology to enhance the course was positively received by these graduate nursing students.  The integration of WebCT® as an adjunctive tool to other strategic activities appears to provide support for a learner–centered environment in nursing education.