Number 1 in the Ratings: A Television-Based Learning Activity
Today’s undergraduate nursing students are a generationally diverse group. Although the average age at graduation from initial nursing education programs is 26.2 years, the range of student ages can span decades, encompassing Millenials (born 1982–2002), Cuspars (born 1975–1980), Generation Xers (born 1961–1981), and Baby Boomers (born 1943–1960). This diversity in age presents special challenges to nurse educators, who are typically Baby Boomers, with an average age of 46.8 years (Bureau of Health Professions, 2004).
Researchers have identified differences in each generation on the basis of a collective mind-set that individuals within the group share because of common life experiences (Lancaster & Stillman, 2002). Appreciation for the effects of generational characteristics on learning styles can facilitate more effective teaching methods in the classroom (Johnson & Romanello, 2005; Walker et al., 2006). Billings and Hallstead (2005) noted that across generations, teaching must be sufficiently varied to prevent boredom, enable participation, and be emotionally satisfying to be effective. The use of games in nursing and medical education has been reported in the literature as an effective mechanism to present new material, as well as to review previously covered topics, while enhancing critical thinking skills (Glendon & Ulrich, 2005; Howard, Collins, & DiCarlo, 2002; Ogershok & Cottrell, 2004). We report on an innovative use of a popular television show, American Idol (Lythgoe, Warwick, & Frot-Coutaz, 2002), in an undergraduate maternity nursing course as a strategy to build on previously learned concepts and incorporate critical thinking skills.
Prior to the midterm examination, students are scheduled for a lecture on nursing care in labor and delivery (L&D). Rather than the traditional lecture, the instructor enters to the theme music of American Idol and is dressed as Simon Cowell, one of the show’s judges. Then the instructor introduces the new season, “American Idol Goes to Labor and Delivery.” The students comprise the audience, who give input to the panel of judges. Faculty or staff roll-play judges Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson. Another faculty member dresses up as various contestants, pregnant women who lip sync to songs for each stage of labor in hope of hearing the judges say, “You’re being admitted to L&D!” (Table 1). The audience answers questions about various aspects of the labor process, nursing interventions, rationale, and outcomes (Table 2).
Table 1: Music for Stages of Labor
Table 2: Script Example
Student Feedback: What Do the Ratings Critics Say?
Students have consistently provided enthusiastic positive feedback on this teaching strategy. Using a Likert scale of 1 through 5, with 1 being least helpful and 5 being most helpful, undergraduate students (N = 75) gave a mean rating of 4 to “American Idol Goes to Labor and Delivery.” Within the overall course evaluations, the mean scores for variety and effectiveness of teaching strategies were consistently higher than those for school mean scores.
Qualitatively, students commented, “I loved the use of skits to that of just lecture and PowerPoint® [presentations]” and “It made remembering a lot of material easier!”
Additional research is needed to further evaluate the effects of this teaching strategy, ideally with the use of a randomized pretest and posttest design. However, this activity has proven to be entertaining, yet intellectually challenging, for the students and energizing for the faculty. We continue to incorporate new songs and themes from the current American Idol season, which keeps the presentation fresh.
Anne B. Woods, PhD, CNM
Elizabeth T. Jordan, DNSc, RNC
Johns Hopkins University
School of Nursing