Problem-Based Learning for Didactic Presentation to Baccalaureate Nursing Students

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Nursing judgment is an essential component in the delivery of safe, quality patient care. Nurses must have the knowledge and skills to question authority, make judgments, substantiate evidence, and advocate for the patient. Traditional pedagogy in content-laden courses remains primarily lecture based. Incorporating active strategies to strengthen professional practice is essential. A pilot study assessed senior baccalaureate nursing students’ perceptions of problem-based learning (PBL) and their readiness for self-directed learning. In addition, the authors analyzed the relationship between readiness for self-directed learning and course content mastery using PBL. Students completed the Self-directed Learning Readiness Scale, the Problem-Based Learning Environment Inventory, and course content mastery exams. Students reported positive experiences with PBL and readiness for self-directed learning. Readiness for self-directed learning and 2 of 5 exam scores were inversely, significantly related. Students’ perceptions of their readiness for self-directed learning did not always correspond with course content mastery. Specifically, some students who perceived themselves as ready for self-directed learning did not perform well on course content exams. This inverse relationship has not been reported by other researchers and brings an interesting perspective to student perceptions and actual performance. Four themes emerged from students’ narrative responses: Prepared Me for Real Life Professional Situations, Stimulated My Critical Thinking, Promoted Independent Problem Solving, and Supported Learning Retention. PBL as a pedagogical approach provides opportunities for nursing students to explore their professional independence while attempting to master content.

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