Teaching Beliefs in Nursing Education Essay

September 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

Teaching beliefs are a very important and interesting subject to explore, especially in the scope of nursing education. Education is a teacher-focused industry, where the contents, techniques, and methods of teaching are largely defined by the curriculum and educators conducting classes (Findlow, 2011). The students are molded and made into professionals not only through their own work and studying but also through their teachers’ influence. Education in itself is an intervention; therefore it must be based on evidence and not revolve around a teacher’s beliefs regarding particular areas of teaching, however right or misguided these beliefs are (Johnson, 2004). Nevertheless, every teacher has certain views about education that have been with him or her for a very long time without being examined from an evidence-based perspective. The purpose of this self-reflective paper is to examine one of my most important beliefs about teaching and provide a better perspective on it based on professional advice from other experienced educators as well as my own academic research.

Personal Beliefs

I was brought up in a traditional learning environment, which I disliked a great deal. I did not agree with my teachers’ methods of utilizing repetitive tasks in order to drill skills into our heads, collectivist approach to education without paying attention to the individual, and the overall focus on the curriculum rather than helping me grow as a person. My beliefs towards education in nursing or in any other field of education and research are that every student is an individual and requires a personalized approach. Although I have never been the recipient of such actions in education, I believe that it would be more efficient and yield greater results in the long run. Education should be focused on the student, not on the teacher or even the subject at hand. I draw parallels between nursing practice, which is focused on the patient, and educational practice, which should be student-based. A situation that can be used to demonstrate the correctness of my beliefs involves one of my former classmates. He had an excellent understanding of the subjects at school, but could not stand homework due to problems at home. As a result, his grades went down because of incomplete homework and not because of incomplete knowledge.

Conversation with the Teacher

In order to test my beliefs about education and be challenged by an opposing theoretical and philosophical view, I decided to locate and meet an old school teacher of mine. He was a staunch traditionalist in terms of the purpose of education, the role of the teacher in it, and the effectiveness of drills and other methods of teaching. Another reason why I chose him was that he was a teacher in mathematics, geometry, and algebra, which are in many ways similar to nursing.

As expected, we did not agree on many issues surrounding my beliefs and practices. One of the major points of contention was the use of drills and practical tasks in teaching. In my opinion, such an approach limits a student’s creativity and prevents deeper understanding, as the majority would be satisfied with just “passing” rather than inquire further, as their will and desire to learn would be already spent on grueling, repetitive, and pointless exercises.

My teacher understood that these beliefs of mine were partially the result of the shortcomings of the educational process at school. However, he stated that the role of creativity is overrated in certain matters and specializations. According to him, before a student can get creative using a tool or a method, they must learn how to use it appropriately. Repetitive practice, in his opinion, provides the students with reflexive skills, ensures accuracy, and supports long-term memorization. Our second point of contention came from our conflicting views regarding individualized vs. standardized approaches to teaching. My teacher said that although it would have been nice to be able to take an individualized approach to every student, he reaffirmed that his position is that of a schoolteacher and not a tutor. He stated he has at least five classes a day, during which he teaches roughly 150 students. If five classes are multiplied by 45 minutes and divided by 150 students, the teacher would have exactly one and a half minute per every student a day. The interviewee stressed out that an individualized approach is necessary only in students who are completely incapable of following the standardized class procedures due to mental limitations of some kind, such as ADHD, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and others.

Lastly, we conversed about the role of the teacher in shaping students and helping them become better people. Although my teacher agreed that school and university plays an important role in the formation of a student’s personality, it is not the end goal of these institutions. As he said, is job is not to become a surrogate father to every child passing through his classroom. His job is to ensure that when they leave the doors of his school, they have a complete assortment of mathematical knowledge in order to advance further into the academic field. He alluded that the purpose of nursing schools is to teach nurses and promote health through education. While it would be beneficial to help young nurses grow as people, it is not a prerequisite for their practice.

The conversation came to a conclusion soon after. My teacher said that the state of educational research is far from perfect. Articles are written by people who have not stepped into a classroom in years. Many educational researchers are becoming pure theorists rather than practitioners. He made a prediction that in ten years or less, I will see the world his way.

Comparison of Beliefs and Evidence

Naturally, much of what I learned from interviewing my old teacher were opinions and beliefs rather than facts. In order to test both of our claims, I started to research academic literature in order to find support or controversy to the statements made in the course of this self-reflective study. Based on our conversation, I split conflicting views into three pairs, which are as follows:

  • Individualized learning styles vs. standardized approach
  • Rote drills and exercises vs. deeper learning
  • The necessity for a rigid structure vs. flexibility in teaching methods

The results of my investigation and literature research varied from one source to another. I discovered that the roots of my belief could be traced to American history and practices of democracy and individualism. According to Scott (2010), various teaching styles have emerged as a result of western individualistic culture, which contributes to their enduring survival by playing on cultural predispositions of the population, researchers, and students. However, at the same time, there is evidence stating that tailoring learning patterns to students may not as efficient as initially thought. Husmann and O’Loughlin (2018) claim that while students may prefer particular teaching styles, it does not necessarily impair their capabilities of receiving information in any other way.

My view on education correlates with Goodman (2014), who states that modern views on pedagogy often see the student as a co-creator of knowledge, whereas traditional methods treat them as newbies to be taught whatever the teacher feels necessary to teach. According to Davies (2000), constructivists view education not as a series of responses to stimuli or memorization of numbers, motions, and symbols, but through understanding and constructing new knowledge. Constructivism has been one of the prevalent frameworks in education ever since the early 2000s. However, there is a surprising amount of criticism of the progressive constructivist frameworks, especially when it comes to high-stakes disciplines such as nursing.

It has been established that nursing is an evidence-based practice. According to Mackey and Bassendowski (2017), evidence-based practices and the use of technology is critical to success and evolution of nursing. At the same time, current beliefs enforced in the nursing education community could not be farther from that goal. Tanner (2004) states that education in nursing as well as in other fields operates largely on ideology and consensus achieved between different factions within the nursing community. They practice a multitude of approaches towards teaching without a solid evidence base to support these practices. Many pedagogues expect students to share their teacher’s beliefs about education and willingly participate in whatever activities necessary, be it unorthodox learning methods or research (Comer, 2009).

Based on the evidence provided, it can be concluded that neither mine nor my teacher’s beliefs were completely wrong or completely right. It is possible to see that preferences towards individualism and flexibility are dictated by experiences and cultural background rather than educational efficiency supported by evidence.

Barriers in Enacting My Beliefs

Some of the barriers to enacting my beliefs were outlined during my conversation with the teacher. His words regarding the lack of time to focus on individual capabilities of students are supported by data. Shen et al. (2015) find a distinct correlation between overworking and burnout in teachers, which leads to high rates of turnover. Thus, paying extra time to individual students in large classes can result in premature burnout and emotional exhaustion. In addition, Mooney and Nolan (2006) state that overly independent and alternative means of education in the nursing sphere are not entirely applicable because of the necessity for the understanding of structure and history of the nursing process.

Another barrier is my prejudice towards drill practices. As evidenced by Heward (2003), these exercises are necessary for developing fluency in the subject, while measured addition and subtraction of information make the students understand what they are doing. These words mirror my old teacher’s position regarding math and could potentially be applied to nursing as well.

Lastly, nursing is a standardized science. It is highly structured and requires adherence to a multitude of high standards in order to ensure the safety of patients and effectiveness of health promotion (Ranchal et al., 2015). As such, the flexibility of teaching methods in regards to individual student capabilities will cause further complications further down the road. If a student is incapable of following the curriculum on nursing and adhere to the strenuous demands of the program, the program should not be altered to accommodate that student at the expense of the quality of teaching (Caroleo, 2014).

The Implications of Holding onto Beliefs

Belief is characterized by confidence in something to be efficient, correct, and true, without enough proof to label a particular statement or practice as knowledge (Baronett, 2016). Since nursing and nursing education are evidence-based practices, holding on to beliefs without enough evidence to back them up can be detrimental to the educational effort (Fives & Gill 2014). The experience of conducting research on my own beliefs and beliefs of my old math teacher has proven that neither of them was right. Both held bits and pieces of true knowledge, while the rest stemmed from biased perceptions, experiences, and past teachings.

Therefore, I concur that nursing education specialists should focus on identifying and examining beliefs while at the same time developing their own teaching philosophies based on evidence (Yeom, Miller, & Delp, 2018). It requires constant conscientious analysis of subconscious and automatic responses to certain challenges, opinions, and factors. The question every educator must ask oneself is whether any notion they teach is objectively right (Kurtz, Draper, & Silverman, 2016).

Lastly, an educator must evaluate not only the knowledge he or she teaches, but also the sources of that knowledge. As stated by Zyga (2016), it is possible to find information to support almost any practice or point of view. The key lies in the dissemination and accurate evaluation of that information.

Conclusion

To conclude, belief is the death of knowledge. As an educator, I cannot allow my personal beliefs to sway me from utilizing objectively effective techniques and practices, even if I do not agree with them. Education is an intervention and must be based on evidence, not on individual experiences and beliefs.

References

Baronett, S. (2016). Journey into philosophy: An introduction with classic and contemporary readings. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Caroleo, M. (2014). An examination of the risks and benefits of alternative education. Relational Child & Youth Care Practice, 27(1), 35-46.

Comer, S. (2009). The ethics of conducting educational research on your own students. Journal of Nursing Law, 13(4), 100-105.

Davies, P. (2000). Approaches to evidence-based teaching. Medical Teacher, 22(1) 14-21.

Findlow, S. (2011). Higher education change and professional-academic identity in newly “academic” disciplines: The case of nurse education. Higher Education 63(1), 117– 133.

Fives, H., & Gill, M. G. (2014). International handbook of research on teacher’s beliefs. New York, NY: Routledge.

Goodman, B. (2014). Paulo Friere and the pedogogy of the oppressed. Nurse Education Today, 34(7), 1055–1056.

Heward, M. L. (2003). The ten faulty notions about teaching and learning that hinder the effectiveness of special education. The Journal of Special Education, 36(4), 186-205.

Husmann, P. R., & O’Loughlin, V. D. (2018). Another nail in the coffin for learning styles? Disparities among undergraduate anatomy students’ study strategies, class performance, and reported VARK learning styles. Anatomical Sciences Education, 0(0), 1-14.

Johnson, M. (2004). What’s wrong with nursing education research? Nurse Education Today, 24(8), 585-588.

Kurtz, S., Draper, J., & Silverman, J. (2016). Teaching and learning communication skills in medicine (2nd ed.). London, UK: CRC Press.

Mackey, A., & Bassendowski, S. (2017). The history of evidence-based practice in nursing. Education and Practice. Journal of Professional Nursing, 33(1), 51–55.

Mooney, M., & Nolan, L. (2006) A critique of Freire’s perspective on critical social theory in nursing education. Nurse Education Today, 26(3), 240-224.

Ranchal, A., Jolley, M. J., Keogh, J., Lepiesova, M., Rasku, T., & Zeller, S. (2015). The challenge of the standardization of nursing specializations in Europe. International Nursing Review, 62(4), 445-452.

Scott, C. (2010). The enduring appeal of ‘learning styles.’ Australian Journal of Education, 2010(54), 5.

Shen, B., McCaughtry, N., Martin, J., Garn, A., Kulik, N., & Fahlman, M. (2015). The relationship between teacher burnout and student motivation. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 85(4), 519-532.

Tanner, C. (2004). Nursing education research: Investing in our future. Journal of Nursing Education, 43(3), 99-100.

Yeom, Y., Miller, M. A., & Delp, R. (2018). Constructing a teaching philosophy: Aligning beliefs, theories, and practice. Teaching and Learning in Nursing, 13(3), 131-134.

Zyga, L. (2016). Why too much evidence can be a bad thing. Web.

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