TEACHING OF PHARMACOLOGY FOR NURSING DEGREE: ASSESSMENT OF A BLENDED LEARNING STRATEGY IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CADIZ, SPAIN
The development of information technologies (IT) applied to the learning process in Higher Education points toward a “revolution” in teaching, by enhancing learners’ interactions with others (collaborative learning), allowing learning to be individualized, and transforming the role of the instructor. However, this revolution has sharpened disputes between innovation and tradition like never before.
There is some evidence that blended learning could be more efficient than the traditional classroom model: students achieved similar grades and showed higher levels of satisfaction with this kind of approach (Garrison and Hanuka, 2004). The success depended on the effective integration of both procedures (online and face to face methodologies) and entails a reorganization of the teaching and learning dynamics. It is not just applying technology to a course's content or simply a matter of “delivering old content in a new medium”.
What makes blended learning particularly effective is its ability to facilitate a community of inquiry. Community provides the stabilizing, cohesive influence that balances open communication and limitless access to information on Internet. Learning Communities also provide the condition for free and open dialogue, critical debate, negotiation and agreement. Blended learning has the capabilities to facilitate these conditions and adds an important reflective element with multiple forms of communication to satisfy specific learning requirements. Students who work through experience and their own findings learn more efficiently and are more motivated to learn.
In this study, a collaborative learning strategy for teaching the Pharmacology course through e-learning in the Nursing School curricula was designed. The design adds competence-based organization and learning based outcomes to our teaching assignment at the University of Cadiz (UCA). The learning experience considers long-term group assignments, in-classroom activities and “anytime-anywhere learning experiences” using the UCA’s virtual campus. We attempted to get information from students and colleagues in order to analyze the learning experience for both usefulness to and implementation in other Health Sciences courses or areas.
To assess the quality of the teaching-learning process and the perception of achievement of the proposed learning outcomes, we designed a questionnaire to be filled out voluntarily. The questionnaire considers the following areas of student assessment: motivation, expectations, knowledge acquisition usefulness, required effort, facilitation of self-learning, quality of teaching materials, content relevance, value for self-assessment, skills, adaptation to the EHEA and satisfaction. Expert opinion has been also considered through surveys and personal interviews of experienced professors from several knowledge areas who are involved in learning innovation. A set of open and closed questions with similar topics was asked to the experts in order to achieve a critical evaluation.
Both students and experienced professors considered this experience satisfactory. We believe that this instructive environment is useful to make both individual and continued evaluation, because student are more involved in their own learning both as an individual and as a member of the study team.