Nursing students' and tutors' perceptions of learning and teaching in a clinical skills centre

Della Freeth, Heather Fry
Nurse Education Today 2005, 25 (4): 272-82

BACKGROUND: Clinical Skills Centres (CSCs) can ease pressure on clinical skills development and assessment in clinical areas; and provide added value through experiential learning and self-directed learning. Published accounts of innovation in CSCs tell part of this story but little is known about perceptions of students and tutors engaged in day-to-day learning and teaching in CSCs.

METHODS: This paper reports one strand of a mixed methods study in a busy multidisciplinary CSC: a questionnaire survey of nursing students' and tutors' perceptions of learning and teaching. Questionnaires focused on items representing commonly espoused views regarding the use and usefulness of CSCs.

RESULTS: Students and tutors enjoyed learning and teaching within the CSC, although senior students were slightly muted in their views. All groups valued the supported practice of clinical and communication skills. The CSC was seen as a learning environment that supports the linking of theory and practice. There was some ambivalence, particularly among tutors, about the relationship between performance in the CSC and in clinical areas.

DISCUSSION: The favoured pedagogic approach of expert demonstration by tutors followed by supported practice necessitates attention to tutors' training. The muted responses of senior students may signal a need to review the CSC learning experiences offered to them.

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