When studying the ways of health assessment and physical examination, it is necessary to have an appropriate learning environment that would encourage students’ critical thinking (Jarvis, 2016). During the course, we learned about the core assessment tools and nursing theories such as Watson’s theory of human caring and Leininger’s transcultural theory. These theories helped to delineate the learning environment which is most beneficial for the development of critical thinking. Other takeaways from the course are the ability to identify learning styles and needs, knowledge about the developmental peculiarities of various age groups, and competence regarding socioeconomic determinants of health assessment.
Critical thinking is one of the major objectives of higher education, as it enables the learners to synthesize the information and apply it in the most appropriate way (Haghparast, Nasaruddin, & Abdullah, 2014). In nursing, critical thinking helps students to find the best solutions to the problems which enable the most beneficial outcomes for the patients. Therefore, organizing the most suitable learning environment for nursing students is of great significance. To organize critical thinking, educators resort to various learning methods and apply technological innovations. One of the most productive ways of facilitating critical thinking is the implementation of e-learning techniques (Haghparast et al., 2014). E-learning provides a possibility to employ the internet and web-based technology tools in the process of education. Critical thinking may benefit from e-learning as it prepares the students to correspond to modern society’s needs (Haghparast et al., 2014).
The clinical learning environment (CLE) is the most important setting where nursing students obtain an education. It is necessary to organize the CLE in such a way which would stimulate students’ critical thinking. In their study, Papathanasiou, Tsaras, and Sarafis (2014) investigate students’ evaluation of CLE. The results of the research indicate that there is a disparity between students’ expectations and the reality of CLE. The participants report that their greatest expectations are concerned with the options of personalization, task orientation, and involvement presented by CLE (Papathanasiou et al., 2014). A study by Sundler et al. (2014) investigates the student nurses’ impressions of CLE and the way of organizing supervision. Sundler et al. (2014) emphasize the importance of CLE in nursing students’ education and the development of their critical thinking skills. The authors report that while students confirm the positive impact of supervision, they express some dissatisfaction with the way in which the process is organized.
One of the most significant takeaways of this course was getting acquainted with the principles of implementing nursing culture theories in the assessment process. Madeleine Leininger’s transcultural theory asserts that culture is constituted by “the learned, shared and transmitted values, beliefs, norms and lifeways of a particular group that guides thinking, decisions and actions in a patterned way” (as cited in Law & John, 2012, p. 371). Another theory important for attaining the best learning environment is Jean Watson’s theory of human caring. According to her theory, it is vital to organize transpersonal education which would enhance professional caring in healing techniques (Vandenhouten, Kubsch, Peterson, Murdock, & Lehrer, 2012).
The learning environment plays a significant role in the formation of students’ critical thinking abilities. For nursing students, these skills are particularly important as nurses have to make decisions concerning people’s health issues based on what critical conclusions they make from the information about patients. Therefore, organizing a positive learning environment should be at the core of any educational establishment’s vision.
Haghparast, M., Nasaruddin, F. H., & Abdullah, N. (2014). Cultivating critical thinking through e-learning environment and tools: A review. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 129, 527-535.
Jarvis, C. (2016). Physical examination and health assessment (7th ed.). St. Louis, Missouri, MO: Elsevier.
Law, K., & John, W. (2012). Homelessness as culture: How transcultural nursing theory can assist caring for the homeless. Nursing Care in Practice, 12(6), 371-374.
Papathanasiou, I. V., Tsaras, K., & Sarafis, P. (2014). Views and perceptions of nursing students on their clinical learning environment: Teaching and learning. Nurse Education Today, 34(1), 57-60.
Sundler, A. J., Björk, M., Bisholt, B., Ohlsson, U., Kullén Engström, A., & Gustafsson, M. (2014). Student nurses’ experiences of the clinical learning environment in relation to the organization of supervision: A questionnaire survey. Nurse Education Today, 34(4), 661-666.
Vandenhouten, C., Kubsch, S., Peterson, M., Murdock, J., & Lehrer, L. (2012). Watson’s theory of transpersonal caring: Factors impacting nurses professional caring. Holistic Nursing Practice, 26(6), 326-334.