5 Creative Tips for Improved Learning in the Flipped Classroom

By Julie Miller, BSN, RN, CCRN-K Mar 01, 2019

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How Nurse Educators Can Flip the Script for Success

I recently attended a conference full of educators and was extremely impressed to see so many new educators from the younger generations stepping into these leadership roles.

During my presentation on blended learning I shared ways to facilitate a flipped classroom as part of the orientation for novice progressive and critical care nurses. The new educators in attendance provided such enthusiastic feedback, I knew I had to share these tips. So, here are my top tips on how to creatively engage novice nurses in a flipped classroom.

Tip #1: Let the learner be the teacher

In the flipped classroom setting, students generate the learning and the educator supports and guides the orientation. This concept resonates with many adult learners. It is one of my favorite approaches to teaching and I’ve found nurses are especially receptive to this type of learning. We all have stories to share, and we are constantly learning more and improving the care we provide to our patients.

I find that novice nurses have a genuine need to share their experiences. Flipping the script on them provides a perfect opportunity for learners to exchange ideas, socialize and bond professionally. Sharing prompts the novice nurse to apply knowledge, ask questions, receive feedback and learn from their peers. The learners become teachers, too.

Tip #2 Challenge learners to set personal orientation goals

On the first day of my critical care residency class, I ask the nurses to identify one or two personal goals they would like to accomplish by the end of the orientation period. Not surprisingly, most are stumped by this request because they are supposed to be there – it’s mandatory, right?

After they’ve had a few moments to process that, pretty soon they’re all jotting their goals on paper or typing them on their devices. I don’t ask to see what they’ve chosen, because the goals are for them, not for me. All I ask is that they keep their goals some place where they can find them again on the last class day of orientation. That way each learner can self-assess to see if they met the challenge and achieved their goals.

Tip #3: Ask learners to share their goals with their peers

Although my learners don’t have to give me their goals, I do ask them to share their goals with the class so they can learn from each other what they find important. During the sharing, the class supports one another with ideas for their goal attainment while I facilitate new ideas.

This exercise is more than learning from one another. I find this also helps the novice nurse develop a sense of “What’s in it for me?” It is an extremely important step in becoming a professional nurse. It helps them begin to develop and foster autonomy as a clinician. By choosing a goal, they are also choosing the path for their own development. In another blog, I outline some examples of typical goals that you can share with your learners.

Tip #4: Encourage students to develop their own questions, exercises and strategies

Every class brings new challenges and opportunities. I like to engage students in the flipped classroom by encouraging them to develop a list of their own questions, exercises and strategies.

Every day, I ask that my students be ready to:

  • Share something they have learned in their practice
  • Give report on their patient
  • Discuss an error they made (if they are ready to share that experience)
  • Offer a case study for the group to review

These steps embolden the nurses to practice talking about their patients, giving report and asking for feedback. And, most importantly, they gain confidence in their application of the knowledge they are learning. It’s a win-win!

I’ll share even more details about how to facilitate these steps with your nurses in an upcoming blog article.

Tip #5: End the class on a positive note

During ICU/ PCU orientation, by the end of the day most learners are tired and brain-drained, and they can’t remember what we talked about that day. I have the perfect solution: During the last 15 minutes of class, ask everyone to write or type at least 10 things they learned.

Give them about three to five minutes and then ask them to share two things from their list with the group. The caveat is that each person must share something different. No repeats allowed. I love this activity! It provides the adult learner another opportunity to hear content again, which boosts knowledge retention. The learners leave the classroom with the realization that they actually did learn and retain something.

Finally, as a facilitator, listen and reinforce the importance of specific content. Be sure to clarify any misunderstandings. Correct anything that the learner heard incorrectly (or any mistakes you made). The “no repeats” rule is fun and creates enthusiasm for a learner to go first and lead the learning. It also creates engagement, challenging them to listen attentively and ensuring they don’t miss what a peer shared. Their peers definitely enforce the no-repeat rule, so it creates some fun, collaboration and friendly competition. All things that adult learners like!

Share your favorite facilitator tips

Every educator has their own great ideas for facilitating orientation. Send me your favorite facilitation tips for providing progressive and critical care nurse orientation.