BSN from the University of Nebraska Medical Center - College of Nursing, Lincoln Division.
MSN in Nursing Education from Nebraska Methodist College, Omaha, NE
EdD for Health Professions from College of Saint Mary, Omaha, NE in progress with anticipated graduation date of 2018.
Teaching Outside the Book: An Educational Philosophy
Kristi Smith, MSN, RN, CCM, CLNC
My educational philosophy encompasses both humanistic and experiential learning models. Education is the beginning of our organized lives. Learning is a part of every encounter we experience as human beings. Knowing that I, as an educator, can be a part of both sides of the educational process of teaching and learning is highly rewarding personally and professionally.
Nursing education, while similar to other professions and educational endeavors, in its quest to impart knowledge and skill to its students, is also very unique in its specific task of creating a workforce that is able to learn and then practice in the multi-faceted and every changing environment of health care. Creating a well prepared workforce is only part of the puzzle facing nurse educators today. Each generation of learners poses new challenges with differing views and learning needs.
The humanistic learning theory operating on the premise that learning is student focused gives way for learners to direct and guide their educational encounters. Humanistic learning theory works well in nursing education as both are caring and learner (patient) focused, (Bastable, 2008). Rogers (1994) discusses a learning environment where students (learners) personalize their experiences, creating a more authentic mode of learning. Gardner (1993) introduced his Multiple Intelligence theory introducing seven primary intelligences which depict how individual’s best learn in differing situations. My belief as an educator is one that incorporates both of these views. Each learner is unique and has unique learning needs. When learners are placed in a learning environment that meets their learning needs and both allows and encourages them to use preferred methods of learning, they will have a higher satisfaction with learning, and will continue to build upon that knowledge. This process then motivates the learner to seek out ways to put this new knowledge into practice through experience. This leads to an experiential learning cycle for individual learners, and further promotes and encourages learning.
Rogers (1994) described educators as facilitators of learning, rather than acting as an authority. This is how I view myself as an educator. I strive to create a learning environment where I facilitate learning, not just impart knew material or content. I believe teaching requires creativity. Understanding that each student is unique in his/her learning process and needs requires an evaluation of how I impart knowledge to my students. My teaching practice is driven by the individuals I teach. Building a rapport with students, and understanding their learning needs provides me with information about how to best present information for the formation of learning and also how to use class activities for reinforcement. For instance, when beginning a new class, I often have students introduce themselves. They are encouraged to do this in a way that is comfortable to them, but that gives me information I would not otherwise obtain. This exercise has gleaned excellent insight into my student’s personalities and primary learning intelligences, as I have students give presentations, perform skits, write letters, and sing songs, as well as many other forms of introduction.
I work to create a learning environment that is both pedagogical and anagogical, where I utilize a traditional teaching practice when introducing new material, and then work as facilitator in order to allow students to synthesize the new material into a knowledge that is useable in their nursing practice, creating a balance in my teaching methods. This is often done by, creating learning groups, having students “teach” content they have learned previously, and use reflective journaling that can be shared with the class if the student chooses. This approach allows for accommodation of the differing learning styles of my students. Often when students ask questions, I return a question in an attempt to encourage the use of rationale and critical thinking. I believe that if students understand the “why” of what they learn, they are more accommodating in their learning and utilization of the knowledge.
Nursing education, in particular, must be able to incorporate a global perspective in its curriculum and development of nursing student’s world views. Inclusion of cultural and ethnic issues, diversity, and competence must be addressed in nursing education. This also requires that I, as an educator, remain culturally competent. Teaching about differences and similarities, dignity and respect for everyone, and attempting to understand others and their needs is critical for nursing education. The use of culturally competent education can work to stretch the students thinking outside of their comfort zone, in a non-threatening environment, making learning more meaningful and more likely to be used in their nursing practice.
Motivation, flexibility, and adaptation are key elements in today’s educator. Undertaking the challenge of education and meeting the needs of learners requires educators to be constantly evolving in their knowledge and skills. Providing my students with a learning environment that promotes independence, critical thinking, and synthesis of knowledge in practice is my goal as an educator. Utilizing learning theories that support my beliefs and philosophies, enrich my teaching and also that of the learning encounters for my students is important to provide a framework for my role as teacher and facilitator.
Bastable, S. (2008). Nurse as educator (3rd ed). Boston: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.
Gardner, H. (1983). http://tip.psychology.org/gardner.html.
Rogers, C., & Freiberg, H. J. (1994). Freedom to learn (3rd Ed.). New York: Macmillan.
Nursing 201: Professional Communications
Nursing 204: Global Health: Women's Perspectives
Nursing 236: Introduction to Undergraduate Research
Nursing 245: Nursing Care of Individuals, Families, and Groups in the Community
Nursing 250: Population Based Nursing Care
Nursing 510: Transcultural Nursing
American Nurses Association (ANA)
Nebraska Nurses Association (NNA)
Sigma Theta Tau, Tau Tau Chapter
Case Managers Society of America (CMSA)
National Alliance of Certified Legal Nurse Consultants (NACLC)
American Legion Auxiliary