Journal of Nursing Education

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Teaching Nursing by Television

Clara B Worledge

Abstract

The merits of teaching anything on open or closed-circuit television as opposed to traditional or face-to-face teaching have been discussed, tested, and evaluated for several years. I do not propose to go into the pros and cons of teaching on television at this time, but to consider the view, "Almost anything that can be presented can be presented on television." l Certainly teaching nursing skills would lend itself very well to this medium.

There still seems to be considerable resistance on the part of educators to this newer method of teaching, however. The main resistance seems to be from instructors who possibly do not fully understand what teaching by television is all about. They are fearful of the unknown, or that television will replace the live teacher; that is, complete courses can be taught without the need for the live instructor in the classroom. Perhaps they have been told that they would have to teach on television. To many colleagues in education, this is like waving a red flag before a bull. Many instructors do not want to give up old, comfortable, tried and true methods of teaching. They do not wish to experiment with new ideas, or be too far removed from the known and safe procedures. Another factor which keeps cropping up is that it takes too much time to prepare a lesson for television. Does this mean that we do not spend time preparing for traditional teaching?

The first consideration toward the acceptance and use of teaching by television seems to be to orient the faculty to the idea of teaching on television. It is better to take time in the beginning for a thorough exploration of the idea than to rush into the project and have it bog down in a mire of unhappiness, dispute, and dissatisfaction. After this period of time and exploration of feelings, one or two of the instructors who seem to be sympathetic with the idea might be requested to give it a try. Not all instructors will accept the concept at first, and some perhaps never. Nevertheless, some instructors will find the concept an appealing challenge.

So it would seem that preparation for this change in teaching methods is necessary. Also, a spirit of willingness and an open, flexible mind are healthy ingrethents for the individual to possess. Perhaps a dash of courage, too! In the Division of Nursing Education at St. Petersburg Junior College the spirit of willingness was manifested by the Dean of the division. Indeed, she was more than willing; she was enthusiastically willing. She sought information in this area. Furthermore, she predicted that television was "here to stay," and that we would eventually become involved. New instructors were appraised of this fact too. There was no question in our minds that our Dean was getting prepared and preparing us to teach on television. An analogy which comes to mind is that of a family which expects the son to go to college when the time comes. The young man knows what is expected of him. He grows up with this expectation, and barring unforeseen eventualities, he goes. So, we too got used to the idea of teaching on television before we actually did teach. Furthermore, a new building on the campus was built to house the closed-circuit Radio- Television Department and, along with several other departments, our own Nursing Division. Our nursing laboratories were planned with television teaching in mind. In each laboratory there were two television monitors. The teaching auditorium was equipped with a large screen projector. The embryonic idea of television teaching, together with the…

The merits of teaching anything on open or closed-circuit television as opposed to traditional or face-to-face teaching have been discussed, tested, and evaluated for several years. I do not propose to go into the pros and cons of teaching on television at this time, but to consider the view, "Almost anything that can be presented can be presented on television." l Certainly teaching nursing skills would lend itself very well to this medium.

There still seems to be considerable resistance on the part of educators to this newer method of teaching, however. The main resistance seems to be from instructors who possibly do not fully understand what teaching by television is all about. They are fearful of the unknown, or that television will replace the live teacher; that is, complete courses can be taught without the need for the live instructor in the classroom. Perhaps they have been told that they would have to teach on television. To many colleagues in education, this is like waving a red flag before a bull. Many instructors do not want to give up old, comfortable, tried and true methods of teaching. They do not wish to experiment with new ideas, or be too far removed from the known and safe procedures. Another factor which keeps cropping up is that it takes too much time to prepare a lesson for television. Does this mean that we do not spend time preparing for traditional teaching?

The first consideration toward the acceptance and use of teaching by television seems to be to orient the faculty to the idea of teaching on television. It is better to take time in the beginning for a thorough exploration of the idea than to rush into the project and have it bog down in a mire of unhappiness, dispute, and dissatisfaction. After this period of time and exploration of feelings, one or two of the instructors who seem to be sympathetic with the idea might be requested to give it a try. Not all instructors will accept the concept at first, and some perhaps never. Nevertheless, some instructors will find the concept an appealing challenge.

So it would seem that preparation for this change in teaching methods is necessary. Also, a spirit of willingness and an open, flexible mind are healthy ingrethents for the individual to possess. Perhaps a dash of courage, too! In the Division of Nursing Education at St. Petersburg Junior College the spirit of willingness was manifested by the Dean of the division. Indeed, she was more than willing; she was enthusiastically willing. She sought information in this area. Furthermore, she predicted that television was "here to stay," and that we would eventually become involved. New instructors were appraised of this fact too. There was no question in our minds that our Dean was getting prepared and preparing us to teach on television. An analogy which comes to mind is that of a family which expects the son to go to college when the time comes. The young man knows what is expected of him. He grows up with this expectation, and barring unforeseen eventualities, he goes. So, we too got used to the idea of teaching on television before we actually did teach. Furthermore, a new building on the campus was built to house the closed-circuit Radio- Television Department and, along with several other departments, our own Nursing Division. Our nursing laboratories were planned with television teaching in mind. In each laboratory there were two television monitors. The teaching auditorium was equipped with a large screen projector. The embryonic idea of television teaching, together with the visible building and equipment, began to provide the necessary subliminal stimuli.

In the fall of 1963, under the tutelage and guidance of the television director assigned to the Division of Nursing Education, two of our more intrepid instructors took the plunge and taped the "bed bath." We knew very little about writing scripts, signing waiver rights, rehearsing, or acting. (We still have much to learn about acting!) There was no television coordinator, as we now have, to work with the participants and the director. All this was to come later. However, the first two instructors were able to look at their first endeavor fairly objectively and although they recognized many aspects of the tape which could be improved, their efforts were much better than they expected. It was a beginning! The true test of the success of this venture was that the instructors felt that the students who were exposed to this television segment really learned! One of the instructors said that in ten years of teaching first-year nursing students, she had never seen better results from the students in a return demonstration.

The tape was used by first showing it on the large screen to the entire class of one hundred and eleven students in the teaching auditorium. The next day the class was divided into small sections to watch the tape on the monitors in the nursing laboratories. The third time, the tape was played back again in the laboratories. This time some students played the role of patients while other students gave them a bed bath, following the action on the monitor. Many of the pro aspects of teaching on television were apparent. For example: (1) Each of the one hundred and eleven students had a "front row" seat, (2) The teacher was brought closer to every member of the class, and (3) Closeups of important points could be emphasized; e.g., closeup of washing the back followed by a back rub.

The first tape was made in the autumn of 1963. Several months passed before another tape was made. In the spring of 1964 the subject matter of the second tape was based on group dynamics. This tape was to be used as a segment in teaching communication skills. Two instructors and four nursing students volunteered to participate. One of the instructors was the narrator, the other the leader of the group. The students played the roles of "Miss Verbose," "Miss Silent," "Miss Distractor," and "Miss Jester." This time the narrator talked from a prepared script - the others played their roles spontaneously. This was done deliberately in order to avoid stiltedness in the performances of the students. All the above was done with the consultation services of our television director. A laboratory worksheet was devised for use and study before viewing the tape. In the autumn of 1964 this segment on communication skills was used in teaching the freshman nursing students their role in the pre- and post-conference aspects of the laboratory experiences in nursing as we use them in the Junior College program. The laboratory worksheet was presented as homework before the class period. At the beginning of the class one instructor gave an introduction to the material about to be covered. Then the tape was shown. Following the showing, the students were given an opportunity to react to it. The class was divided into many small groups with the students playing the roles of the leader, the recorder, Miss Verbose, Miss Silent, Miss Jester, and Miss Distractor. Cards designated the role each student was playing. The students remained in these groups for about fifteen minutes while the instructors circulated among them - giving help and offering suggestions. Then they all returned to the large group where they were given an opportunity to share their experiences under the guidance of the instructor. It was a very dynamic experience. The students learned to their own amazement just what roles they naturally played in groups. They also learned how difficult it is to assume another role. In essence, the television tape was just a part of the teaching of communication skills - an enhancement, if you like. All the instructors were present for the viewing of the tape and for the followup in sections. No evidence of cutting down on the number of instructors is seen here, but rather an opportunity to reduce the size of the learning groups.

In the spring of 1964 a television coordinator was appointed. When she resigned later to accept another position, I was fortunate to become her successor. We worked together for one month before she left. One of the most important things we did was to formulate a set of guidelines for the use of the faculty. Each member was given a copy. We also designed schedule and script forms. The chairman of the Radio-Television Department had given each of us a copy of "Some Suggestions and Recommendations for New Television Teachers." The latter paper and the one entitled "Guidelines," in my judgement, were very valuable in clarifying procedures which instructors would need to be familiar with as we settled down to tape subject matter in the autumn of 1964. Another device which the director and the coordinator thought might help a new instructor before she went on television was a three-to-five-minute audition, followed by a critique by the director. Almost everyone took advantage of this opportunity. Comments such as, "I'm too fat, I'll have to go on a diet;" or, "I kept saying, 'it's a good idea'"; or, "I kept licking my lips!" came from incredulous teachers. They really saw how these mannerisms could be distracting to viewers, and were immediately aware of reasons to try to improve their teaching presentations.

By mid-year of 1964-1965 all but one of the freshman instructors had had an opportunity to do television teaching. Two of the four present sophomore class instructors also have been teaching on television. The remaining two have had auditions and now have a lesson on the "croupette" in rehearsal.

The climate in the Radio- Television Department has always been very helpful and comfortable. The dean of the Division of Nursing Education has allowed ample time for acceptance of the concept of TV teaching, with the result that we have worked our way slowly and carefully through twentyone nursing television tapes.

In the relatively short time we have used television for teaching nursing to nursing students, we have found, as was predicted, that all instructors did not react favorably to this kind of teaching. This is to be expected. Perhaps these individuals could contribute to the whole of team teaching by doing the research for the subject of the tape, if this is an area in which they can best make a valuable contribution. Another person may like to gather visual aids, and still another may prefer to obtain equipment which the team has decided to use. Another instructor may be greatly interested in methods of how to use the tape to its best advantage and/ or how to evaluate its use. Fortunately, we do not all like to do the same thing. The best situation, of course, would be to let the person best qualified in a certain area perform in that area.

As to the "master teacher" concept - effective teaching by television is not accomplished by a single individual. It requires the combined skills of a wellcoordinated team similar in pattern and approach to that found in any educational institution. The teacher before the camera must work closely with the teacher in the classroom and with resource and support personnel in the areas of the curriculum, instructional materials, testing and evaluation, graphics, and production. As to the quality of televised education, past performances have already indicated it can equal or surpass present conventional methods in selected areas, if thoroughly planned and properly applied. And there is little evidence that its use will result in future generations of robots."2

The instructors in the Division of Nursing Education scheduled the showing of television tapes which we have made as a matter of course in their classes in the fall of 1965. They now come to the dean and to the television coordinator and say, "We must get this on tape."

Yesterday there was the horse and buggy and McGuffey's reader. Today there are space ships and television. Tomorrow staggers the imagination.

Bibliography

  • Anderson, Lois D.: Telecourse in Nursing, The American Journal of Nursing, 64: 79-82, 1964.
  • Brong, Ruth E.: Is Television the Answer?, The American Journal of Nursing, 64: 77-79, 1964.
  • Browne, Duff: Educational Television Programming, Nursing Outlook, 13: 42, 1965.
  • Lewis, Philip: Educational Television Guidebook, McGraw-Hill Book Company, New York, 1961.
  • Spiegai, Allen D.: Every Patient Has a Front Row Seat, The American Journal of Nursing, 64: 86-88, 1964.
  • Westley, Bruce H. and May Hornback: An Experimental Study of the Use of Television in Teaching Basic Nursing Skills, Nursing Research, 13: 205-209, 1964.

10.3928/0148-4834-19660401-08

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