Analysing utilisation of a self-directed clinical skills laboratory by undergraduate nursing students in higher education: a mixed methods design.
Background Nursing qualifications at institutions of higher learning have a strong focus on knowledge acquisition to ensure that the students are well equipped to know both how and why to maximise patient care. This knowledge needs to be balanced with clinical skills, acquired through both supervised and self-directed experiences, the latter being an increasingly important part of student learning in higher education institutions clinical skills laboratories. Aim The study aimed to analyse the utilisation of the self-directed clinical skills laboratory by undergraduate nursing students in a selected higher institution, and make recommendation on how teaching and learning in this area can be strengthened as a learning space. Methods A non-experimental convergent parallel design was used. A sample of 118 nursing students was collected through systematic random sampling for the quantitative questionnaire survey, semi-structured interviews were conducted using purposive sampling of six clinical facilitators, and focus group discussions were conducted with 32 nursing students, one group from each of the 4 undergraduate years. Results The findings suggested that students using the self-directed clinical skills laboratory applied the self-directed learning principles in their learning. The learning space is perceived to be used in line with the South African Nursing Council requirement, and the students using the learning space were positive about its use as a learning environment. Conclusion While both staff and students found the self-directed clinical skills laboratory to be a useful learning environment, its use would be improved by providing adequate human and material resources, and ensuring that what was taught was in line with clinical practices in hospitals.