Nursing: Learning About Nursing History

Title: Freshman Seminar in Nursing: Learning about Nursing History
Discipline(s) or Field(s): Nursing
Authors: Elizabeth Devine, Susan Fontana,. Florence Selder, Laurie Glass, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Submission Date: January 30, 2007

Executive Summary:

The one hour class period in which nursing history was taught in Freshman Seminar in Nursing was the focus of this study. The short-term, lesson-specific goals for the lesson were [a] that students will identify 3 major themes that capture the ways in which the nursing profession evolved, and [b] that given exposure to nursing artifacts, students will discuss form and function of these artifacts as they relate to technology and the work of the nurse. The short-term, general course goal addressed in this lesson was that students will complete assigned homework as evidenced by their participation in class discussion.

The lesson plan included various interactive methods to address the three themes that have undergone change as the nursing profession has evolved overt time. These themes are [A] the Identity of the Nurse, [B] Nursing Service/Practice, and [C] the Work of Nursing including the technologies used in nursing care.

Activities included a homework assignment, short lecture and guided discussion on the themes that used the homework assignment and involved passing around historic artifacts, a small group discussion of a job description of bedside nursing in the 1887, and small group activity in the Nursing Historical Gallery where students discussed artifacts and ways in which the work of the nurse has changed over time.

After obtaining informed consent, two cohorts of students enrolled in Freshmen Seminar in Nursing were studied. Data were collected using non-participant observation. The lesson plan was revised based on data derived from observing the first cohort of students. Based on 0 to 10 scales, where 0 is strongly disagree and 10 is strongly agree, the average across scores for student being attentive, responsive, and understanding of the concepts addressed, the average scores from two observers were as follows.

  • For the whole class lecture/guided discussion the means were 8.5 for Cohort One and 9.5 for Cohort Two.
  • For the small group discussion of a job description of bedside nursing from 1887 the means were 6 for Cohort One and 9.8 for Cohort Two.
  • For the small group work in the Nursing Historical Gallery the means were 9.8 for Cohort One and 10 for Cohort Two.

During the lecture/guided discussion part of the class, using homework-based activities allowed the content to be addressed in a more interactive manner than when lecture was the primary mode of content delivery. The small group discussion of a job description of bedside nursing from 1887 was the weakest part of the lesson. After observing the first cohort of students, this activity was simplified and it was much more successful with the second cohort of students. The activities in the Historical Gallery were characterized by excellent participation and thoughtful discussion in both cohorts of students.

Links to the lesson plan and the materials used to each it:

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