Student's perceptions of effective clinical teaching revisited

Claudette Kelly
Nurse Education Today 2007, 27 (8): 885-92
Despite a wealth of research on clinical teaching, the criteria for determining what constitutes effective clinical teaching remain poorly defined [Cholowski, K., 2002. Nursing students' and clinical educators' perceptions of characteristics of effective clinical educators in an Australian university school of nursing. Journal of Advanced Nursing 39 (5), 412-420]. This paper reports on two studies exploring second and third year nursing student's perceptions of effective clinical teaching over 14 years (1989-2003). The aim of the inquiry was to compare student's perceptions in diploma and baccalaureate programs within existing clinical contexts. This research used a generative approach to elicit learner's views of what teacher characteristics and contextual influences impact them in clinical settings. A convenience sample of 30 students at the end of second and third years volunteered to be interviewed in-depth for each study. The first study was conducted in a diploma program, whereas in the second study all but a few students were elected to complete a four year baccalaureate nursing degree. Findings from both studies are remarkably consistent. Students in both studies rated teacher knowledge as most important followed by feedback and communication skills. Teacher knowledge appeared critical in four areas: as it pertains to the clinical setting, the curriculum, the learner and teaching/learning theory. How well students perceived that they were accepted by staff, student-teacher ratios and peer support also appeared to impact student's views of effective clinical teaching. This research has implications for employment and evaluation practices for teachers in applied fields such as nursing. The study raises questions about the recent trend toward temporary employment of clinical teachers and in the separation of academic and clinical roles of nurse educators.

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