Different scholars have developed numerous definitions of the term learning. However, Wright, Street, and Gousy (2011) define learning as the continuous permanent acquisition of cognitive, behavioural, and other technical and non-technical skills. Learning is a nonstop process, which commences during childhood and continues throughout adulthood. People have different learning capabilities, which explain why some of them prefer unique learning methods. Learning shapes the behaviour, emotions, and the overall intelligence of a person. In the recent past, researchers have developed numerous learning theories that address diverse methods of teaching students.
Although the theories have many similarities, they also have differences since each emphasizes unique ways of learning. However, despite the differences, the theories are important to teachers since they help in the development of school courses. In the past, the topic of the importance of learning theories and styles to the field of nursing has sparked a heated debate among scholars. Some scholars claim that the theories are imperative to teachers and students alike while others dispute the view. This paper explores the arguments presented by scholars belonging to each school of thought to gain insight into the significance of the learning theories and styles for my nursing career.
Development of the Curriculum
One of the advantages of understanding learning theories and learning styles in the field of nursing is that it helps teachers to develop teaching courses that can benefit me as a nursing student. Teachers are obliged to help students to achieve knowledge, which is applicable in their future careers. To achieve the stated objective, teachers need to have an outstanding knowledge of the best teaching strategies. Such knowledge can only be acquired by reviewing the learning theories that are available in the literature (Lowy, 2013). It is important to note that nursing students have different levels of capabilities and that they need different ways of teaching to facilitate their understanding. In this regard, a nursing teacher must develop the curriculum based on the individual’s abilities to ensure that every student benefits from the lessons (Wright, 2010). Pritchard (2013) argues that most tutors in the nursing field are increasingly using the available learning theories and learning styles to develop holistic methods of learning to improve student’s performance in school. The traditional curriculums are criticized for their ineffectiveness in promoting learning for the nurse students. To alleviate the criticisms, numerous researchers have come up with different theories that may guide teachers in the process of developing suitable curriculums (Pritchard, 2013). The increased adoption of the learning theories by nurse teachers is a clear indicator that the theories are an important component of my nursing practice.
Ignites Critical Thinking among Nursing Students
The other benefit that accrues to nurses because of knowledge regarding the learning styles and the learning theories is that it ignites critical thinking. Learning is momentous and genuine when it is prompted and obtained in the process of struggle to resolve problems (Wright & Ferns, 2010). Problem-motivated learning helps students in the construction of knowledge. It also boosts their ability to apply such knowledge in learning. The principle of problem-motivated learning was initially not applicable in medicine. However, today, nursing teachers are increasingly adopting it. The term problem in this context refers to the common tests in textbooks that students encounter in the course of their studies. The problems are solved by applying certain scientific techniques.
Integrating problem-solving with learning can go a long way in encouraging nurse students to do extensive research in search of knowledge. Problem-motivated learning should be designed in a way that encourages learners to read different materials available in the libraries. The main idea behind problem-motivated learning is to assist students to discover and develop knowledge on their own without relying on their teachers (Majeedkutty, Yang, Suppiah, & Lun, 2015). In the process of discovering and acquiring such knowledge, students interact with each other where they acquire more knowledge in the process. Problem-motivated learning is founded on the fact that tests in textbooks can be solved through the application of various principles presented in the available literature. Tutors should avoid giving direct solutions to problems meant for students. Rather, they should let the students search for solutions to such problems on their own. Implementing problem motivated learning requires teachers to recognize the desired outcome of the methodology used. Teachers should only give students problems that prompt research on the part of the students, as opposed to tests that may kill their morale.
Encourages research and EBP
The other reason why nurses should possess knowledge regarding learning styles and learning theories is that such understanding helps them to integrate evidence-based practices into the nursing practice. Such knowledge empowers nurses to conduct independent research while incorporating the findings in treatment. The incorporation of such research findings in treatment helps in the provision of patient-centred services, thus improving patients’ outcome. Fleming, Mckee, and Huntley-Moore (2011) argue that nurses are today engaging in qualitative and quantitative research to add to the currently available medical knowledge and to promote evidence-based practice. The endeavours have resulted in better patient outcomes due to certainty in treatment. The internet facilitates the conducting of such research since it provides sufficient information pertaining to different topics. The integration of research into nursing practice favours the establishment of a long-term patient-nurse relationship, which facilitates the continuous provision of quality services to clients. The current nursing curriculum further empowers nurses to pursue medical specializations. Hence, a nurse may specialize in a field of his or her choice such as diabetes, obesity, and/or pharmacology.
Patient education refers to the process of imparting behavioural and psychological knowledge to patients to facilitate their participation in the provision of care. In the recent past, patient education has been embraced in many hospitals to promote self-care. Research by Edussuriya, Ubhayasiri, Abeysiriwardhana, and Wickramasinghe (2016) shows that self-care leads to improved patient outcomes and hence the need to empower patients to take care of their health. Nurses are the primary educators of their patients since they are directly involved in the provision of medical care. In this regard, they are aware of each patient’s educational needs. Hence, they can administer such training more effectively. However, Edussuriya et al. (2016) indicate that many nurses are not aware of the best methods to employ when educating patients, thus leading to ineffective training. Besides, various healthcare organizations employ the services of volunteers to conduct such training. The volunteers do not have the necessary knowledge regarding patient education. Hence, they end up using the wrong methods. To effectively administer such education to patients, nurses need to be proficient with learning theories and styles. Nurses with good knowledge regarding learning theories can formulate a curriculum that best fits the education needs of each patient.
Another trend in nursing that necessitates the need for nurses to possess excellent knowledge of learning styles and theories is the recent integration of behavioural therapies into traditional healthcare. Currently, nurses are administering behavioural therapies to patients to enhance their health and/or promote self-care (West, Clark, & Jasper, 2008). In the past, behavioural therapies were limited to patients with mental disorders. However, today, such therapies are increasingly being applied to other patients. Behavioural therapists are targeting patients suffering from chronic illnesses since such therapies are said to reduce the severity of the illnesses in the end. Due to the current shortage of psychologists, nurses are assuming the role of counselling. In most cases, behavioural therapies are administered in groups. In such groups, the therapist must ensure that each member benefits from the therapy. Given that different people have different learning styles, nurses must integrate the learning theories to understand the learning needs of each participant. This requirement reinstates the argument that knowledge of the learning theories is important to nurses.
Knowledge Sharing in Organizations
The creation of knowledge other than acquiring it can also be a major reason why nurses need to be conversant with the learning theories and learning styles. Currently, the internet and social media offer platforms in which nurses can communicate with their colleagues and patients (Laine, Myllymäki, & Hakala, 2015). This interaction facilitates problem-solving and the advancement of medical knowledge since a nurse may enquire from a colleague on the best nursing practices. Communication between nurses through the internet facilitates the passage of skills from skilled colleagues to the inexperienced ones. Besides, it facilitates the acquisition of knowledge by the patients regarding the management of a certain condition without visiting the clinic. For online knowledge creation and sharing to be successful, nurses need to demonstrate understanding regarding learning theories. In this setting, each nurse will pass the knowledge to others in the most suitable method. Additionally, the interaction between nurses and patients via the internet will be beneficial if they (nurses) have the necessary knowledge regarding the learning theories and styles. Without such knowledge, nurse trainers may utilize unsuitable methods of training the patients, a situation that may lead to inefficiencies in the knowledge sharing process.
Improved Quality of Care
Other than increasing morale among nurses, knowledge of the learning theories and learning styles leads to improved services and better patient outcome. The view is informed by the fact that knowledgeable nurses have the ability to use the learning theories to research and/or make viable decisions regarding the kind of care to be availed to patients based on their care needs. This case leads to informed decisions, which result in better patient outcomes and reduced cost of health. Additionally, it leads to the elimination of medical errors. According to Aliakbari, Parvin, Heidari, and Haghani (2015), medical errors are among the leading causes of complications among patients.
This finding underscores the need to mitigate them. Such errors often arise because of little knowledge by nurses on how to handle different illnesses. Knowledge of the learning theories helps nurses to conduct independent research to gain facts pertaining to a certain disease. Such comprehension not only increases their proficiency but also empowers them to make rational decisions (Abdi, 2012). The elimination of medical errors automatically leads to enhanced patient outcomes, not to mention that it may lead to lowered cost of health. Additionally, medical errors often result in low morale among nurses, especially if such errors lead to the deterioration of a patient’s health. Poor morale among the workforce may increase staff turnover rates, hence depriving an organization of its experienced staffs. It is important to note that experience is central to achieving quality care since experienced healthcare providers have the ability to make rational decisions regarding a patient’s health.
Development of Continuous Training Programs
In contemporary healthcare systems, nurses are increasingly assuming the role of healthcare management. Nursing managers are expected to effectively manage their teams to achieve quality care for the patients. The management of the team would require nurses to be conversant with the learning theories to effectively understand each team member. For a team to succeed in its role of providing quality care to its patients, it is important to note that the members must be continuously trained. The contemporary healthcare is characterized by rapid changes, which are largely attributed to the drastic advancement in technology and the evolution of new diseases (Manee, Nadar, & Jahrami, 2013).
Besides, more people across the world are growing old, a situation that increases their healthcare needs. This case underscores the need to introduce continuous training programs for nurses to equip them with the necessary skills to handle the upcoming healthcare issues. Such a program requires team managers to have an outstanding knowledge about the learning theories and styles to develop suitable curriculums for practising nurses. In the absence of such knowledge, a nurse manager may not develop an effective learning program. This situation may block the achievement of the primary goal of providing quality care to patients. Therefore, nurses need an understanding of the learning theories to facilitate organizational growth and team learning, which are central to achieving quality care for patients.
In the past, researchers have attempted to uncover the benefits of possessing outstanding knowledge about learning theories and styles by nurses. Consequently, numerous works of literature regarding the topic have emerged, with most scholars trying to substantiate the argument that such knowledge is a must-have for nurses. This paper adds to the existing literature regarding the topic by exploring the evidence, which supports the possession of such expertise among nurses. The paper finds that nurses like me need to be conversant with learning styles and learning theories. One of the benefits accruing to the nurses because of their proficiency in the mentioned area is improved patient outcome. This goal is achieved via rational decisions made by the nurses following research carried out using the learning theories. The other benefit is that nurses who have knowledge regarding learning theories manage to introduce suitable continuous training programs in their respective organizations, hence increasing their overall performance. Next, nurses with knowledge about learning theories triumph in their attempt to promote self-care, as they are able to train patients on the best way to take care of their personal health. Other benefits include the ability to think critically, improved knowledge sharing in organizations, better administration of behavioural therapies, and increased ability to integrate research into decision-making. The listed benefits have been discussed in details in this paper.
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