A one-stop shop for the best resources in constructivist-based nursing education.


Introduction to Constructivist-Based Nursing Education

So much of what I do in the classroom is a rehashing of what has been done by teachers for years. I lecture at my students and give them the information I think they need. I tell them what is important, why they need to learn, and how they should learn it. I lecture while they sit passively at their desks. In my classroom, students take in the information I give them using a minimum of self-discovery. Through my developing awareness of constructivism, I have come to know that there are smarter, more creative, and more effective ways for students to learn the information they need.

I am taking on the challenge of creating learning environments in which students are encouraged to gain understanding of content through a process of inquiry. I will be honest and say that shifting the responsibility of knowledge acquisition from instructor to student leaves me feeling more than a little apprehensive. Will students get the content they need? Will they develop an in-depth understanding of concepts fundamental to their development as nurses? And finally, will students actually take on the responsibility of learning? Through my study of constructivism and my own experience in constructivist learning environments, I believe the answer to all of these questions to be an unequivocal “yes!” Learning environments can be structured to encourage inquiry and active learning, and available technology can be an integral part of the process. As a result of compiling this guide, the link between technology and constructivism has become very evident. In making decisions about which resources to use and how to best develop the functional end of the guide, I have, through a process of inquiry, built knowledge on constructivism and technology.

As part of my own professional development, I have teamed up with a partner to develop constructivist learning modules for an Introduction to Nursing course. This resource guide was borne out of an effort to compile quality resources that could be used in the creation of learning modules. The contents of the resource guide are also intended to foster my growing understanding of constructivism. The resources I have included are websites that discuss learning theory in-depth, video introductions to such pioneering developmental psychologists as Piaget and Vygotsky, and articles on constructivism from nursing and nursing education journals. The resources also comprise links to pages that can help guide inquiry during WebQuests.

I plan on using these resources as I develop subsequent inquiry-based nursing courses and that is why I have used a blog to house my resource guide. The blog format allows for a continual evolution of content. As I find more relevant resources I can add them to the blog as a link. Additionally, I can write brief descriptions of a link’s contents and relevance. If I find that resources are no longer relevant, or links I have posted are no longer working, I can easily remove them from the blog. The blog can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection and can also be shared with others interested in all or part of my pursuit of constructivist-based nursing education. This resource guide can evolve as my own inquiry into constructivist pedagogy grows.


Constructivism Sites

Piaget Video
An introduction to the work of Piaget. Early childhood development through active inquiry is discussed. Also includes footage of children completing different developmental tasks.

Vygotsky Video
Introduction to Vygotsky's work. Theory is illustrated by video clips of children engaged in constructivist learning activities.

Montessori Video
A brief video introduction to the Montessori philosophy and how it harnesses the inherent constructivist nature of a child's learning.

All of the video clips above use an audio-visual approach to explain developmental psychology. I find that this approach greatly facilitates my understanding of relevant theorists' contributions.

Constructivism and Online Museum Experiences
An informative article dedicated to the development of constructivism and technology in museum environments. Factors that have impacted the quality of user experience are examined. In designing constructivist activities for my classes, consideration of these factors is critical.

Constructivist Learning Blog
A blog about constructivism! The blog includes links to constructivist activities occurring in education around the world. Pedagogical approaches of constructivism are discussed. I have found this blog to be very helpful as it presents effective strategies for incorporating inquiry-based learning in the classroom.

Nursing Education Sites

American Assocation of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
AACN sets the standards for nursing education. The curriculum framework includes didactic and clinical courses within baccalaureate and graduate-level nursing programs. The site can be used as a resource for inquiry-based learning activities such as WebQuests.

Journal of Nursing Education
This journal is the gold-standard for published research on nursing education. Great resource for students and faculty seeking information on developing effective teaching strategies.

Nursing Specialty Organizations

American Nurses Association
The official site of the American Nurses Organization (ANA). The ANA sets the standards of practice for the nursing profession and is an important source of consistency in nursing practice. This is a great website for foundational nursing courses and could be used as a resource for a WebQuest on nursing practice guidelines.

National League for Nurses
The National League for Nurses is an accrediting body for nursing education programs. The goal of the ANA is to advance excellence in nursing education so that nurses will be prepared to meet the needs of diverse populations in an ever-changing healthcare environment.

American Psychiatric Nurses Association
The organization's official website with membership information, APNA Journal, job links, news and resources. As I teach a community mental health theory class, this organization is particularly important in outlining the standards of practice for our specialty. This website could also be used as a resource for a WebQuest.

Educational Websites

Learning Theory Resources: A Collection
An exhaustive list of links to excellent learning theory sites. The Theory Into Practice (TIP) database and the home of Cooperative Learning are but a few of the links housed here.

Big Dog's Training and Development Resources
A comprehensive website that includes numerous links to learning resources. The site includes links to everything from e-learning to constructivism and instructional design.

The most exciting development in increased access to education-focused information. Internet2 provides infrastructure for very large files and information sharing and could be used for such virtual learning experiences as simulated surgery and patient assessment.


The WebQuest Page
Seminal information on WebQuests: history, development, resources, training materials. Very helpful in getting the WebQuest basics and what it takes to create an effective WebQuest of one's own.

Sample Webquest: War of the Worlds
A survivalist approach to learning the essence of delegation and teamwork. This webquest uses an "end of the world" scenario to mobilize students to problem-solve and create a deeper understanding of the task at hand through constructivist learning approaches. The goal of the exercise is to create a 10-page Powerpoint that conveys the individual contribution to the larger team accomplishment.

Nutrition WebQuest
A nutrition-focused WebQuest which allows students to work on a similar problem from the perspective of different roles within the healthcare team. This could easily be adapted for use in a nursing case study.

Health Assessment WebQuest
This WebQuest is uses constructivist learning techniques to guide students of the axillae, abdomen, and genitalia. It is nursing focused and creates a good model for learning health assessment through inquiry.

Chemical Dependence in Nursing WebQuest
A WebQuest created for professional nurses that looks at the issue of substance abuse and chemical dependence in nursing. Part of the community mental health nursing theory class I teach looks at this issue so this could possibly be the basis for a similar activity in my class.

Complications in Pregnancy WebQuest
Aimed at nursing students completing the OB rotation, this WebQuest uses active research methods to guide understanding of common complications of pregnancy such as placenta previa and preterm labor. This could be adapted for any specialty population within the nursing curriculum.

Selected Articles for Course Development

Appleton, J. & King, L. Constructivism: a naturalistic methodology for nursing inquiry. (Methods of Clinical Inquiry), Advances in Nursing Science, December, 1997.

Davis, L. & Cox, R. Looking through the constructivist lens: the art of creating nursing work groups. Journal of Professional Nursing. 1994 Jan-Feb;10(1):38-46.

Haggerty, C. Supporting the development of critical analysis through the use of a constructivist learning strategy, Whitireia Nursing Journal, 2004.

Peters M. Does constructivist epistemology have a place in nurse education? Journal of Nursing Education. 2000 Apr;39(4):166-72.

Wrigley, K. Constructed selves, constructed lives: a cultural constructivist perspective of mental health nursing practice. Journal of Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. 1995;2(2):97-103.


Designing Applets that Foster Constructivist Teaching and Learning
A how-to guide for novice applet developers. The site also discusses the theory behind effective applets and how technology can contribute to inquiry-based student learning.

Rollercoaster Applet
A fun applet that allows children of all ages to construct their own rollercoaster. This is great for demonstrating to educators in all fields the value of simple applications that can be operator-manipulated to produce varying effects.