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Nursing Education and Constructivist ,Social, Sociocultural, Situated (Authentic) and Situated Cognition Learning Theory 

Constructivist Learning Theories In Nursing Education, Social Learning Theory In Nursing Education, Premise Social Learning Theory, Implications of Social Learning Theory in Nursing Education, Sociocultural Learning Theory In Nursing Education, Premise of Sociocultural Theory In Nursing Education, Implications of Sociocultural Theory In Nursing Education, Situated (Authentic) Learning and Situated Cognition In Nursing Education, Premise of Suited Learning and Suited Cognition Theory In Nursing Education, Implications for Nursing Education. 

Constructivist Learning Theories In Nursing Education

    Constructivism as a learning theory is based on the work of Piaget (1970a, 1970b, 1973), Vygotsky (1986/1962), and Bandura (1977). Constructivism holds that learning is development (Fosnot, 1996) and that assimilation, accommodation, and construction of knowledge are the basic operating processes in learning. 

    A learner constructs new knowledge by building on an internal representation of existing knowledge through a personal interpretation of experience; faculty coach and facilitate (Brandon & All, 2010). Constructivists believe that learners build knowledge in an attempt to make sense of their experiences and that those learners are active in seeking meaning. 

    Learner’s form, elaborate, and test their mental structures until they get one that is satisfactory. In the constructivist paradigm, knowledge representation is open to change as new knowledge structures are added to the existing foundational structure and connections. 

    Constructivism is also helpful in understanding how interactive social situations foster learning. Social constructivist views involve both individual cognition and social interactions in the learning process. From this perspective, also known as social interactivist, construction of knowledge is enhanced because of interactions with others (Frank, 2005; Hean, Craddock & O’Halloran, 2009: Vianna & Stetsenko, 2006). 

    Packer and Goicechea (2000) described this as learning via communities of practice. According to the authors, learning is constructed in those social types of settings. Learner participation and relating is indicative of a social constructivist learning environment, which includes learning from others, and drawing on context from the topic of the lessons being studied (Adams, 2006). 

    The learning environment is one that engages students with one another and promotes comfort and safety for expression of creative ideas and novel thoughts (Powell & Kalina, 2009). Social learning theory, sociocultural learning, and situated (authentic) learning are discussed as examples of constructivist theories that are of interest to nurse educators.

Social Learning Theory In Nursing Education

    In social learning theory as proposed by Bandura (1977), learning involves active information processing. Students learn by observing others as models of behavior. A key component of this theory is that students who believe they can perform well have high self-efficacy and will be able to take on complex tasks with confidence. The goal of learning is to develop self efficacy. 

    The environment, cognition, and behavior all interact through a series of processes that consist of attention (such as complexity and value), retention (remembering, coding, mental images), reproduction (trying it and observing how it went), and motivation ( compelling reason) to affect learning and performance (Bahn, 2001).

Premise Social Learning Theory

   The basic premise of social learning theory is that people can learn through observation (such as role modeling) and that individual mental state (such as value perceived) affects all learning.

Implications of Social Learning Theory in Nursing Education

    Social learning theory with its emphasis on self-efficacy is used in nursing education to guide teaching–learning strategies such as roleplay, simulation, and clinical learning experiences to develop students’ self-efficacy. Bandura’s theory is also used as a framework for nursing education research (Lasater, Mood, Buchwach, & Dieckelmann, 2015)

Sociocultural Learning Theory In Nursing Education

  Sociocultural learning theory (SCT) is attributed to Lev Vygotsky. Although recognizing a biological basis to the human development potential and recognizing cognitive learning theory such as that suggested by Piaget, Vygotsky (1986/1962) believes that learning involves:

(1) cognitive self-instruction

(2) assisted learning

(3) the zone of proximal development (ZPD)

    Assisted learning requires that a senior learner (adult, teacher) provide the learner with the necessary support to allow the learner to eventually solve the problem. The senior learner gradually withdraws instruction and coaching as the student gains independence. 

    Support includes clues, affirmation, reducing the problem to steps, role modeling, and giving examples. Real learning occurs in the ZPD, the point at which the learner cannot solve the problem alone but has the potential to succeed and can do so with assistance. The teacher or facilitator must understand what the learner has mastered and what comes next.

Premise of Sociocultural Theory In Nursing Education

    The main tenet of SCT is that learning is interactive and occurs in a social context. Students interact with an expert (faculty, clinician) to assume increasing responsibility for mastering the knowledge, skill, or attitude. The faculty work with the student in the ZPD and provide “scaffolding” or necessary support while the student is learning, and then withdraw the support as the student demonstrates mastery.

Implications of Sociocultural Theory In Nursing Education

    SCT can be used in the classroom, online, and in the clinical or laboratory setting. To facilitate further learning, faculty recognize learners’ zones of proximal development and provide assistance through encouragement, affirmation, role modeling, and the breakdown of steps. They support students and motivate then to learn through the use of innovative teaching strategies (Phillips & Vinton, 2010). 

    Sanders and Sugg (2005) discussed the actions of faculty as assisted performance that includes feedback and cognitive structuring. The focus is on student development through participation with others. Faculty must be comfortable in letting learning emerge and trust the student when “scaffolding” is withdrawn. 

  Faculty can encourage student identification of the sociocultural nature of their previous learning through personal reflection, storytelling, and comparisons between textbook or clinical examples and their own experience. Encouraging students to communicate in their own voice in both written and oral presentations can serve to both illuminate and enrich individual and peer learning. 

    Sanders and Welk (2005) developed strategies to scaffold student reading, applying Vygotsky’s ZPD (1986). Scaffolding techniques to be constructed or gradually diminished based on student needs include modeling, feedback, instruction, questioning, and cognitive structuring. 

    Group interactions in activities such as examination of issues from an actual clinical day promote sociocultural learning. Debriefings following simulation activities provide rich opportunities for feedback and learning. Authentic case studies can be used to foster questioning, dialogue, and even debate among student groups. 

    This may be enhanced if cases are given that are complex and contain less than all of the information needed. Peer and McClendon (2002) noted that teachers need to focus on connection making activities, such as peer and reciprocal questioning techniques and cooperative learning. 

    Sociocultural learning aimed at constructing new knowledge can also be used in inter professional education (Hean et al., 2009; Sthapornnanon, Sakulbumrungsil, Theeraroungchaisri, & Watcharadamrongkun, 2009). Students are responsible for their learning by communicating and collaborating with others. This includes reflection, sharing, and questioning as ways to learn from others. 

    Students participate in the design and evaluation of learning. Students may discover the meaning by presenting analogies, using and describing prior knowledge and experiences, and having dialogues with faculty and peers about real life situations that require application of the content. 

    With faculty and peer support and scaffolding, students can acquire an increased self-awareness about what is known and become aware of how the new knowledge fits into their existing knowledge structure. Student reflection on the meaning of the content and the learning experiences is a process they can use to enhance and extend their learning.

Situated (Authentic) Learning and Situated Cognition In Nursing Education

    Situated learning occurs in the context of the current nursing practice setting. The goal is to bring the “real” world into the academic setting so that students are better prepared to navigate the complex and often ill defined environments in which they will ultimately be employed. Rule (2006) notes that these situations are typically open ended and require investigation through multiple sources, collaboration with others, and individual and group reflection. 

    An important aspect of situated learning is situated cognition, or thinking embedded in the context in which it occurs (Elsbach, Barr, & Hargadon, 2005). Benner, Sutphen, Leonard, and Day (2010) note that situated learning is the hallmark of nursing education, and in their call for transformation of nursing education, recommend a shift from teaching decontextualized knowledge to teaching for a sense of salience and situated cognition through a closer integration of classroom and clinical experiences.

Premise of Suited Learning and Suited Cognition Theory In Nursing Education

    Focusing on real world situations provides opportunities for students to develop skills important to practice, including collaboration, clinical decision making, communication, and creativity.

Implications for Nursing Education

    Faculty design learning experiences such as case studies, unfolding case studies, role play, simulation, and learning in clinical settings to immerse students in situations they will experience in current nursing practice. Students focus on learning for application in clinical practice. There is less emphasis on memorization, with increased learning and practice for synthesizing information for safe and quality patient care.

 

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