Keeping Learning Engaging – Focus On Active Learning No Matter the Environment

We know classrooms look different this semester due to COVID-19, especially for nursing and healthcare educators. Regardless of where your class may be, it’s vital to make sure your students are on the right track with their learning. There are plenty of ways faculty can encourage active learning, both in person and online. When times are uncertain, the best strategy is to have a plan that is easy to adapt and look to incorporating engaging tools and teaching strategies in your classroom. Solutions like Sherpath that provide interactive course content with a variety of assignment types, quizzing tools, and teaching resources can be a life saver for faculty working online. Follow these active learning strategies below to make the most out of your classroom learning experience.

  • If you’re teaching in a digital classroom, encourage students to be on camera! In class, you can easily gauge the level of student engagement, and whether your students are understanding and following the lesson. Having students on camera helps you observe for these same behaviors.
  • No matter the environment, break up class time!  Nothing is less engaging than hours and hours of lecture. 
  • Start class with a question or activity to get students thinking. Can you tie the topic of the day to current events? Perhaps you planted some critical thinking questions or points to ponder in their ebook readings. Now’s a good time to ask their thoughts about these! Having a student share an exciting experience from clinical is also a great way to start your class. You can also start with a complex test question that students should be able to answer by the end of class.
  • Present lecture content in “Need to Know Spotlights”, or brief lectures highlighting important aspects a topic.  Remember, students should come to class with a basic understanding of the concepts/topics of the day, having read their texts and completed preparatory assignments.
  • Use quizzing breaks!  In-class quizzing breaks up the lecture monotony.  It gives you the opportunity to help students with test-taking strategies as well as to see how well they’re mastering the material.  Don’t forget to include NGN style questions to keep them thinking.
    • Use an app!  Quizzing and response apps are engaging platforms appropriate for any level course.  It’s a great way to break up the flow and have some fun!  You can be as creative as you want – make competitions, prizes, etc. 
  • Remember to bring clinical to the classroom whenever possible.  Applying content to patient care is the key to developing clinical judgment. 
    • Tell a story!  Students LOVE to hear stories about a patient you have cared for.
    • Share a video.  Is there an interesting case of a medical error, patient safety concern, celebrity story, etc. that relates to your topic?  This type of video is great to spark discussion.
  • Incorporate clinical judgment by having students complete a case study:
    • Virtually – break into groups using breakout rooms, then come back together and discuss as a group
    • In-person – work with a partner when space allows, then discuss as a group
    • As a class – share the case and call on students to answer questions. 
  • End class with reflective assessment. Ask students their Muddiest Point from today’s class – that is, what remains unclear.  And they can’t say “nothing”!  There’s always something more to learn.  Make them reflect.  It gives both you and the student direction for future learning needs.
    • If you started with a complex test question, now’s the time to have them answer it!
    • Complete a Minute Paper reflection – students have one minute to answer: “What was the most important thing you learned during class today?”