Active Teaching, Active Learning: Are Today's Students Engaged in Learning?
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Todays students are different from the past and nursing faculty find themselves struggling to convey enormous amounts of information to students whose horizon of learning has changed. Prensky (2001) claims that students' today are "native speakers" of the digital language. This generation of learners is growing-up in a digital world surrounded by computers, video games, the Internet, smart phones, MP3 players, computer tablets, and e-book readers. According to Jackson and Crawford (2008) to-days learners are cognitively impacted by digital experiences requiring educators to revisit and ultimately expand the horizon of delivery methods. A review of the state of the science with regards to teaching strategies and the integration of technology in the classroom suggests that knowing how students learn and using a combination of teaching strategies can promote critical thinking, encourage clinical reasoning, and engage students in the learning process. Based on the empirical evidence an active teaching active learning format was developed for a pediatric course to enhance students learning and keep them engaged in the classroom. To determine students performance when involved in the learning process test results from two different groups of students were compared. One group received 15% of the course content as active learning exercises. These exercises comprised of peer reviewed case studies, one-minute papers, computer generated concept maps and a group wiki development. The other group of students received the same information in lecture format. A comprehensive pediatric examination given at the end of the course by an independent testing company was utilized to compare group performance. Results from the exam show that both group performed the same. Using active teaching strategies including the use of digital technologies will not only help nurse educators in meeting the learning needs of todays digital learners but covering much needed content without affecting students performance.