Emotions and Learning Using High Fidelity Clinical Simulations

Tuesday, 19 November 2013: 9:10 AM

Susan Lynne Ahrens, Ph.D.1
Cheryl L. Rockwell, MSN, BSN, RN2
Pamela S. DeKoninck, MS1
Rachel A. Ramsey, MS, BSN3
(1)Department of Nursing, Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN
(2)Department of Nursing, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN
(3)Nursing, Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne, IN

Learning Objective 1: Understand the emotions students experience when involved in High Fidelity Clinical Simulations.

Learning Objective 2: Understand what learning students report when involved in High Fidelity Clinical Simulations.


Faculty at a midwestern university became concerned about the impact of students’ emotions on their success during non-graded high fidelity clinical simulations (HFCS).  Faculty contemplated the students’ emotional and subsequent learning experiences because anecdotal evidence indicated that learning outcomes were not being met effectively due to significant emotions associated with HFCS experiences. Nursing student descriptions of their experiences are limited in the literature.  


The aims of this study were to use data from student reflection papers regarding their simulation experience to explore: 1) what emotions students reported most often throughout the simulation and 2) their subsequently most frequently reported learning.  


Demographic data and three student reflection papers from 47 students were used as the data for this study.  As part of the reflection paper students were asked to describe their emotions and what they learned during each simulation.


A qualitative descriptive approach using content analysis was used. Descriptions of emotion were found 283 times.  The most frequently reported negative emotion was anxiety.  Negative and positive emotions were reported equally in the first simulation; positive emotions were more frequent during the last twosimulation.  After the simulation, students reported being positive about simulation which was clearly linked to their debriefing experience.  Learning was described 288 times in the following categories: 1) knowledge, 2) nursing actions, 3) communication, and 4) assessment.  


It is significant that the student reported in reflections that debriefing was important to their overall experience.  Debriefing was found to be positive and helped students re-evaluate their experience. Also important is the number of and significant emotional experiences of students throughout simulation.  Nursing faculty need to provide students with support and understanding in preparing and conducting simulation.  More research is needed to fully understand the student experience.