Project-Based Learning and Peripheral Vascular Disease

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Donna Beuk, MSN, RN
Judy Duvall, MSN, RN, CCRN
Venius Turner, MSN, RN-C
Graduate School, The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL

Learning Objective 1: Discriminate between arterial and venous disorders and prioritize nursing care of patients with PVD.

Learning Objective 2: Transfer knowledge of PVD to course assessments and clinical application.

Project-based learning (PBL) engages students, improves test scores and increases collaborative learning opportunities.  It is theoretically predicated upon the work of John Dewey and grounded in contemporary learning sciences research.  PBL is well researched in other educational domains, but there is little research in nursing education.  This proposal begins to address this gap by demonstrating how the main feature of PBL, a driving question, guided effective instruction and motivated students to engage in meaningful learning of peripheral vascular disease (PVD) in a medical-surgical nursing courses at 3 nursing schools and 4 programs (2 BSN; 2 ADN).

PVD includes arterial and venous problems of the circulatory system that students have difficulty separating when understanding conditions that occur.  To guide and motivate students to acquire a deeper understanding about PVD, students were presented the driving question.  “What is going on with the Addams Family?”  This question anchored student inquiry after they were (a) grouped into teams of 4-5; (b) assigned a member of the Addams family; and (c) presented with a critical PVD outcome associated with each family member (e.g., pulmonary emboli, femoral artery occlusion, venous ulcer). The goal of the driving question was to work backwards from the critical outcome of the PVD condition to determine medical causes, nursing assessments, interventions, patient education needs and identify if anything could have prevented the outcome.