I teach graduate students in the Family Nurse Practitioner program in the School of Nursing. These courses are very hands-on and interactive. This is the only point in their education that future nurse practitioners will have didactic and clinical information related to the specific topics. A lot of energy and synergy occur during the 3-hour classes each week. It is an ongoing challenge to maintain a connection with the students during this long period of time, and to be able to share the necessary information each week. There is an adage that relates to the way nurses learn: “See one, Do one, Teach one” and it is an accurate portrayal of acquiring and mastering the skills and knowledge needed to work in healthcare. We have lost at least one third of that component during the pandemic. They cannot “Do one” and be overseen by an instructor who knows what they have been taught. This carries over into their collaborative work, study groups, and their perception of how well they are absorbing the information when it is done primarily in solitude. We became very creative over the past year trying to improve student engagement, and to have markers along the way that helped individual students monitor their progress.
We used many You Tube videos as assigned readings to give different perspectives on how to do particular exams related to body systems that we were covering each week. Also assigned readings in the excellent texts that we have for our courses. We brought in some guest speakers for part of class to enliven the group and gave the topics and PowerPoints ahead of time. We always strongly encourage each student to be part of a Study Group. It seems to hold each participant in the informal groups to be prepared and to strive to know the material or to learn more from another student who might be more comfortable with the topic.
One of the ongoing concerns for the students was the mid-term and final exams. In the School of Nursing, every student must have at least a 75 average on tests in order to pass the course. These are fairly new Doctoral students, and they were not sure of the kinds of questions that they would need to answer on these big exams. There are two sections: multiple choice/short answer/T/ F and brief essay questions. This gives the students opportunities to show their knowledge in a variety of ways. A couple of years ago I came up with the idea of using “Jeopardy!” as a means to prepare for the exams while having fun. We used catchy titles for the categories (“Catch the Red Eye” for eye emergencies, “Strains, Sprains, and Automobiles for orthopedic injuries, etc.). It was very successful in the classroom, and there was a lot of competition during the 1-hour long exercise. I sweetened the pot by assuring them that there would be a couple of questions from the game on the exam. We did not know what to do with the pandemic situation. Fortunately, there is a free downloadable “Jeopardy!” game available online. It is a bit labor-intensive, but it worked out well and was compatible with Zoom. The students loved it just as much as the live version!
Jeopardy has become a classic for this course (NGR5601C). I hope that we can do it in class in the future, but we will have this back up in case of a hurricane or other disaster keeps us from being face to face. I may try to implement this or other games in some of my other classes. Learning is so much more fun and long-lasting when there is engagement and student/teacher interaction. Students always comment on “Jeopardy!” on their ISQs as an interesting and helpful component to this class. We know that they often share the most positive and negative things that they associate with the course on the ISQ surveys. This one is always mentioned a few times in a way that showed that we cared about them.