Primary health care nursing students' perceptions of the case-based learning approach employed at a selected nursing education institution in Durban : an exploratory-descriptive study.
Background: Case-based learning (CBL) is one approach which is gaining popularity. The selected School of Nursing adopted this approach to learning in 2000. The school reviewed all the old case studies and introduced new ones in 2010. These new case studies were used for the first time with the 2011 Decentralised PHC programme. Hence, the need for a study that explored students perceptions towards case-based learning. Research Methodology: A quantitative approach and descriptive exploratory design were adopted in this study. A total number of 101 students were from the three Decentralised Primary health care (PHC) programme participated in this study. Data was collected from three decentralised sites used to offer PHC programme to students; Durban, Port Shepstone and Pietermaritzburg. Data was collected by means of a questionnaire – a self-reporting instrument which included 62 structured questions. Data was analysed statistically for frequency distributions and the relationship between the results from three sites were explored using a Chi Square Pearson Test, with a p value set at .005. Results: The results of this study show that, overall, students view case-based learning in a positive light. Although the majority reported that cases were distributed in case study booklet form (n=66) 65.3%, other modes such as cases presented to students in each class session using transparencies (n=52) 51.5% as well as through emails was reported. Regarding benefits about (n=90) 90.1% of the respondents stated that cases presented added a lot of realism. The researcher also explored to see if there were any variations of results across the three delivery centres. The findings of this study demonstrated that there was a significant difference for seven items, some of these items included teachers feedback and advise after class was relevant for students to cope on their own p<.000; case studies preparing student for working in PHC institutions in South Africa p<.042; preferred lectures more than CBL p<.003 and CBL was too demanding in terms of preparation and the content p<.004. Discussion: Students enjoyed the experience but also identified their own limitations and mistakes. They were able to plan their own learning needs. The students experienced personal and professional growth using cases which represented the real-life challenges. They had the opportunity to apply the theory, their experiences and their newly developed skills from the use of CBL in there clinical practice. The end product was visible and of benefit to the clinical settings as students was now competent in analyzing cases and solving practical problems systematically. Providing a real-life challenge to students in CBL instead of teaching a predominantly theoretical course proved to be beneficial. Recommendations: The researcher felt that a follow-up study, taking into account all six sites where students are placed could result in a difference in the students’ perceptions of CBL as a teaching methodology, as the students in the other three sites are in the more rural areas which limits their resources. There was some inconsistency with presentation and distribution of cases also feedback to students, staff may require development with teaching skills to co-ordinate all centres in a similar way. Port Shepstone and Pietermaritzburg struggle with CBL, maybe they are not incline with Self directed learning (SDL), therefore a follow up study in these centres would assess in students are inclined with SDL.
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