Sage advice: Motivational teaching strategies for nurse educators




Nurse educators from around the country shared words of wisdom on motivational teaching strategies that help nurses learn and flourish, whether in school, in facility inservice programs or in the clinical setting. Here’s what they had to say.

  • Engage adult learners by facilitating a collaborative learning environment through the use of discussions and in-class group assignments. Consider the flipped classroom/learner approach.
  • Remove barriers to learning. For example, try not to sit behind a desk and lecture. While there are times when this is appropriate, remember the average attention span of a student is about 20 minutes. Walk around the room when leading discussions or have students sit in a circle.
  • Show your students how they can make a difference in the lives of others. Let them know thinking like a nurse and feeling comfortable in the role takes time.
  • The steps of the nursing process can be helpful when planning and teaching. Assessment: Identify the topic, learners, goals and time frame. Planning: Develop objectives, content, teaching strategies and evaluation methods to measure learning. Interventions: Set up the classroom, test your technology, engage learners and facilitate learning. Evaluation: Evaluate your goals and incorporate learner evaluations in the process.
  • Be open to constructive feedback and ask for it at midterm, rather than at the end of the semester. Incorporate changes soon after.
  • Demonstrate your own motivation to learn and share your enthusiasm. Know your students’ concerns and backgrounds, and show a real interest in their success.
  • Use a variety of teaching methods and interactive tools. Use simulation, case studies, audio clips, visual prompts and storytelling to connect students to clinical scenarios, and give assignments ahead of time so students are prepared to role play or present case studies.
  • When trying different teaching methods, research a strategy and use it in accordance with your learning objectives and your students’ learning styles. Evaluate the outcomes and make revisions as needed.
  • Give students positive and constructive feedback in the lab and clinical setting. Ask them questions they can answer to build their confidence and praise them when they succeed. If they’re struggling, lead them to the correct answer by sharing how you make clinical decisions, helping them to build their own critical thinking skills.
  • Remain open to being educated by your students.
  • Remain clinically current. It makes the difference between someone who knows what’s going on in clinical care versus teaching from the book.
  • Encourage students to think big, without restrictions. The best way to pass this trait on to students is to relentlessly pursue your own professional goals and let them see you doing it.
  • Love what you do, and the students will feel your passion and commitment.

Janice Petrella Lynch, MSN, RN, is nurse editor/nurse executive.

Contributions to this story were made by Deborah Dolan Hunt, PhD, RN, associate professor, nursing/course coordinator, The College of New Rochelle (N.Y.); Lisa Lacci, MSN, RN, adjunct nursing instructor, Lone Star College-Montgomery, Conroe, Texas; Nilda Peragallo Montano, DrPh, RN, FAAN, dean and professor, University of Miami (Fla.) School of Nursing and Health Studies; Johis Ortega, PhD, ARNP, ACNP-BC, ENP-BC, FNP-BC, associate dean, Master’s Programs and Global Initiatives, and associate professor, clinical, University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies; Alphonsa Rahman, DNP, APRN-CNS, CCRN, clinical nurse specialist, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Baltimore; and Kelly K. Zinn, PhD, RN, assistant director and associate professor, 
nursing, Sam Houston State University, The Woodlands, Texas.


About the author
Janice Petrella Lynch, MSN, RN

Janice Petrella Lynch, MSN, RN 

Janice Petrella Lynch, MSN, RN, is Nurse.com’s nurse editor, nurse executive and news blogger. Also a nursing educator, she has held faculty positions at Wagner College, Skidmore College, Molloy College and Adelphi University. Jan is a member of the New York Organization of Nurse Leaders and the Greater New York Nassau-Suffolk Organization of Nurse Executives. She shares her editorial and writing expertise with nurses at writing workshops; attends and covers nursing events and trade shows; and helps manage the annual Nurse.com GEM Awards program. To ask Jan a question, email jplynch@oncourselearning.com.

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