New teaching and learning approaches achieve results for nursing students

Ricci Wesselink is researching the effects of new teaching directions on Wintec students

Ricci Wesselink’s research shows changes to teaching delivery are having a positive impact on student achievement at Wintec.

Blended learning and flipped classrooms are teaching terms synonymous with Wintec’s Ako Teaching and Learning Directions which have signalled a change in teaching delivery since 2017. But how are these approaches working with students?

Wintec academic, Ricci Weselink who teaches anatomy and physiology at Wintec’s Centre for Health and Social Practice, wanted to know more about the impact of changes to module delivery and structure on student learning outcomes.

She says before 2017, health science (physiology, pharmacology and microbiology) module students attended a two-hour lecture, followed by a two-hour laboratory class before being instructed to spend an hour on specific homework tasks.

From that time, the structure of the module and the method of delivery has changed and the classes are now “flipped and blended”. This means the students now spend two hours pre-learning on a cloud-based e-learning platform followed by a two-hour laboratory class and then a one hour “lectorial”.

“My role as a tutor has truly become more of a learning facilitator or guide that directs, supports and provides goal posts for learning through questioning and discussion. This feels like a more effective use of my time than being the primary source of content, as can occur in lectures.”

Ricci’s research focussed on semester two nursing students, to discover whether the changes made to module delivery and structure had a positive impact on their academic achievement and student experience.

“We compared student achievement results before 2016 and after this change. We also looked at student responses to standardised end of module surveys.”

The results from comparing 2016 and 2018 student academic achievement results are positive:

  • The overall module pass rate increased by 13%
  • The mean module mark increased by 10%
  • The short answer test pass rate increased by 20%
  • The mean short answer test mark increased by 13% 

Ricci says that student feedback from end of module surveys was polarised, but overall, more positive feedback than negative.

Her research, which demonstrates the positive impact that introduction of active learning principles has on student academic achievement took her to Japan earlier this year, to deliver a well-received presentation on transforming health science education.

“I presented my research at the Brain Trust Event run by ADInstruments - the developers of Lt/kuraCloud, a cloud-based e-learning platform in Wellington in November 2018 and was encouraged to present at The Federation of Asia and Oceania Physiological Society (FAOPS) teaching workshop in Kobe, Japan.”

Ricci made the trip to Japan to present her research poster in March at the FAOPs teaching workshop, titled "Blossoming the future of active learners". Her presentation was one of three awarded best poster awards.

Looking ahead, Ricci intends to publish the results of this research, and continue her research with other nursing students to see whether the changes made in Semester 2 have any clear impact as the students move on in their education.

She’d also like to find out whether having access to cloud-based e-learning has positively impacted Wintec midwifery students and review the way this technology is used in block courses, such as midwifery, to maximise positive impact on student experience and academic results.

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