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.