Lecturers at three Nursing Colleges in the Gauteng Province in South Africa where this study was conducted raised their concern that a large proportion of learners reaching the senior phase have difficulty solving patient care problems and even making specific decisions regarding patient care. These learners are also unable to formulate nursing diagnoses and develop nursing care plans. This lack of essential critical thinking skills is evident during the assessment of their assignments, tests as well as clinical formative assessments. These skills can be developed within learners throughout their four-year training, if exposed to outcomes- based education (OBE) and problem-based teaching strategies especially starting on the first level of their training course. The current nursing education programme, at these Nursing Colleges where this study was conducted is an outcomes- and problem-based curriculum. It is important that teaching strategies utilized by nurse educators are appropriate for the specific curriculum implemented because they greatly differ from the traditional teaching strategies. The purpose of this study was to investigate the teaching and assessment strategies utilized in the facilitation of learning for the first year level students in the subject General Nursing Science (GNS I). The focus of the study was on the first year of training because it is expected that development of critical thinking be started at this level. A quantitative, contextual descriptive research method was utilised. The sample consisted of lecturers (N=23) and students (N=680). The lecturers from each of the three colleges were addressed during a personnel meeting regarding the study and a suitable date and time was set for the distribution of the questionnaires to the lecturers and to first year learners during the last block of the academic year. The questionnaires were distributed to the lecturers and the learners on the agreed date and time and the researcher was present to clarify any misunderstanding regarding the tool. The questionnaire consisted of appendix E, which was distributed to lecturers and appendix F, which was distributed to the learners. Respondents were requested not to give any identifiable information on the questionnaires and to place completed questionnaires in the box provided in each of the venues to ensure confidentiality and anonymity. Data from the study indicated that not all of the teaching strategies and assessment methods utilized by the educators are appropriate and conducive for the stimulation of critical thinking skills. The majority of the lecturers facilitate through a lecture method and assessments are mostly done through written tests and examinations. On the other hand teaching facilities at the colleges are inadequate, for instance small group facilities are not available. Recommendations are as follows: <ul> <li> More lecturers should be encouraged to obtain a Masters Degree qualification in Nursing.</li> <li> All lecturers should utilize the OBE educational strategies.</li> <li> In their facilitation of GNS I lecturers should accommodate older students, because they were never exposed to an OBE approach in their basic education.</li> <li> Lecturers should utilise a variety of teaching strategies that will ensure development of critical analytical thinking.</li> <li> Lecturers should utilize a variety of assessment methods.</li> <li> Students should be encouraged to seek information on their own, specifically regarding case studies because this actively involves them as they are solving problems, making decisions and draw conclusions in relation to GNS I.</li> </ul> Copyright
Dissertation (MCur)--University of Pretoria, 2012.