Journal of Nursing Education

Syllabus Selections: Innovative Learning Activities Free

Cinema in Nursing Education: Tapping into the Affective Domain

Rebecca A. Coon, MS, RN

Baccalaureate nursing education generally includes coursework related to nutrition and human development. When nurses understand nutrition and can anticipate human behavior, they are able to intervene more effectively and can greatly improve patient outcomes (Leifer & Fleck, 2013). One way to help nursing students internalize this important information is by purposefully teaching toward the affective domain. By utilizing cinema while learning this information, the affective domain will be tapped and nursing students will be more emotionally connected to the course material. This emotional connection will help them to better recall the information, and ultimately embed the information in their practice.


A blended-methods classroom and online course entitled Nutrition and Human Development Across the Lifespan was taught to prenursing students in a baccalaureate nursing program. Once a week for the online coursework, the students were assigned to watch a 30-minute portion of film related to the material covered that week in the on-ground classroom setting. To appropriately address use of the video material in the online classroom, films were selected for which the university owned a copy. The students could come and borrow a copy from the library to view, or they could elect to view the films by other means. Students then participated in a reflective online discussion forum with classmates. The forum asked students to reflect with peers by relating the content from the film to the content discussed in the classroom. The films utilized in this course and their corresponding topics are listed in Table 1.

Films Utilized in the Course and Related Topics

Table 1:

Films Utilized in the Course and Related Topics

Comments from the discussion forum were used to evaluate effectiveness of students' use of cinema to enhance affective integration of the subject matter. An example of a discussion question used is shown in Table 2.

Connecting Outcomes to Activities

Table 2:

Connecting Outcomes to Activities


When the students see how these nutrition and human development topics affect a person's life, the information is integrated, enriched, and more easily applied in practice. One student commented in a discussion forum, “When I was watching the movie, I also noticed many things that related to our assigned reading in our textbook. It was interesting to see what we are learning in real-life situations.” Another student shared, “I also really enjoyed watching the films, they helped me remember the information better. The films and discussion boards helped me learn even more in the course and I did not feel like it was assigned just as busy work.”

Affective change is the most challenging learning to achieve, but internal change can occur consistently when watching well-produced movies supplemented by directed reflection and discussion. Educators should make use of what cinematographers already know—cinema is powerful.

Rebecca A. Coon, MS, RN

Oklahoma Baptist University


  • Krathwohl, D.R., Bloom, B.S. & Masia, B.B. (1973). Taxanomy of educational objectives, the classification of educational goals. Handbook II: Affective domain. New York, NY: David McKay Company, Inc.
  • Leifer, G. & Fleck, E. (2013). Growth and development across the lifespan (2nd ed.). St. Louis. MO: Saunders.
  • Wilson, L.O. (2017). Three domains of learning: Cognitive, affective, psychomotor. Retrieved from

Films Utilized in the Course and Related Topics

Film TitleTopic
That Sugar FilmCarbohydrates
Forks Over KnivesProteins and vitamins
Steel MagnoliasDiabetes
My GirlGeneral development discussion
Inside OutInfant and toddler development
Toy StorySchool-age development
The IncrediblesMiddle adulthood
On Golden PondAdvanced old age and geriatrics

Connecting Outcomes to Activities

Related Course OutcomeFilm SelectedDiscussion QuestionStudent Response
Describe physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual development across the lifespan.On Golden PondWhat stage in Erikson's psychosocial development is Norman demonstrating? Is he proceeding positively or negatively through it?“For me, thinking of the elderly as “developing” is a strange concept. But as we can clearly observe in “On Golden Pond,” even those in their “60s and 70s” still face developmental tasks they must overcome. It seems that the outcome of this Erikson's stage is mostly predetermined by the outcomes of the preceding ones; judging strictly by Leifer and Fleck's (2013) information, it seems as though it would take an extraordinary force of will to counter decades of negative advancement through psychosocial stages. Norman is facing the choice between ego integrity and despair, and is being consumed by despair…”

The author has disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.


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