Nursing Students in a Global Learning Environment: Creative Teaching Strategies on Culture, Emotion and Communication

Thursday, 25 July 2013: 1:35 PM

Dalit Wilhelm, RN, MA
Cheryl Zlotnick, RN, MS, MPH, DrPH
Cheryl Spencer Department of Nursing, University of Haifa, Mt Carmel, Haifa, Israel

Learning Objective 1: 1.Discuss creative strategies that assist in teaching international students to express and conceptualize emotions in English (not their mother-tongue).

Learning Objective 2: 2.Describe the learning process that facilitates the ability to internalize and regulate the cultural context, significance and expression of emotions among international students.

Purpose: In this increasingly global environment, it is essential that faculty help nursing students with strategies to understand cultures different from their own.  Communication includes the ability to understand the cultural context and emotion.  This was a challenge for undergraduate nursing students originating from a culture that internalizes and modulates emotion culture, who are placed into a culture that externalizes emotion.  Beach et al., systematic review on cultural competence states working globally requires "establishing effective interpersonal and working relationships that supersede cultural differences."  Yet, international students need to cope with many cultural differences; they need to grasp forms of communication within the context of the culture, appreciate these differences, and learn to manage effectively with them.  Using Kelly's Personal Construct Theory, we developed strategies to assist Norwegian students to understand the emotions and experiences of psychiatric inpatients from a different social context. 

Methods:   This project includes two sets of methodologies:  (1) the first describes the strategies, including creative games and exercises, to teach students to reflect, process and explore emotional and behavioral regulation in another culture; and (2) the second involves qualitative techniques including content and thematic analysis using student documentation and mentor interviews to learn about student perceptions of emotions and cultural competence.

Results:  Nursing students stated that expressing emotions in public is discouraged in their country; however, in the Middle East emotions are vivid, visible and striking.  Kelly's theory was effective in aiding faculty to assist students to translate and mediate the differences in the expression of emotions that they encountered.  Still, they found the emotions too intense for them, at times.     

Conclusions: Creative strategies that gradually intertwine attitudes and beliefs of home cultures with new cultures are useful ways of helping international nursing students to understand and work within a new culture.