Evaluating The Student Experience of Inquiry-Based Learning: An Educational Initiative

Caroline Anne Walker Dickson

Abstract


This paper outlines the development, implementation and evaluation of two honours level inquiry-based learning (IBL) modules, one in a pre-registration and one in a post-registration nursing programme within a modern university. Although IBL has been embraced by nursing curricula as a means of developing effective practitioners to meet the needs of a complex, changing healthcare environment, the evidence to support its adoption remains variable. The literature identifies effective curriculum design, facilitation, motivation and cooperation of learners as key in achieving effective IBL. Scenarios to stimulate IBL were developed from practice for these modules, with contributions from practitioners to ensure currency and relevancy.

Student evaluation of the modules revealed that one scenario lacked focus leading to some uncertainty for students. Both student groups encountered some anxiety, particularly during the IBL process and workload was perceived by students as heavier than for traditional methods of teaching and learning. Both groups reported effective facilitation. Although no claims can be made concerning improvement in conceptual thinking within this study, pre-registration students’ assessment results in this module were higher than their dissertation module. However, post-registration students’ marks were lower when compared with a previous cohort. This small educational initiative raises questions about the importance of content, inquiry process, social interaction and overall effectiveness of IBL methods.

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