A comparison of three types of stimulus material in undergraduate mental health nursing education

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Nurse Education Today, 2014, 34 (4), pp. 586 - 591
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Aims and objectives: The paper discusses an innovative educational approach that compared the use of different textual forms as stimulus materials in the teaching of an introductory mental health course. Background: Practitioners in many disciplines, including nursing, appreciate the value of narratives in making sense of experiences, challenging assumptions and enhancing learning: they enable exploration of reality from different perspectives and create an emotional resonance. Narratives help nursing students to uncover embedded meanings, values and beliefs; they can include written texts, illustrated texts or picture books. Participants: 180 students enrolled in an elective undergraduate nursing course. Method: This project afforded students the choice of critically analysing (a) a chapter from one of two autobiographies, (b) an illustrated text, or (c) an illustration from a picture book. Each text was a narrative account from a personal or carer's perspective of the experience of mental illness. Their written submissions were then analysed by means of a qualitative descriptive approach. Results: In analysis of the autobiographies students tended to paraphrase the authors' words and summarise their experiences. Those choosing the illustrated text were able to link the images and text, and provide a deeper and more insightful level of interpretation, albeit influenced by the author's personal account and expressed emotions; however, those analysing a picture book illustration demonstrated a surprising level of critical and creative thinking, and their interpretations were empathetic, insightful and thoughtful. Conclusion: The use of picture books, although not a common approach in nursing education, appears to engage students, challenge them to think more deeply, and stimulate their imagination. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
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