The reading room: Exploring the use of literature as a strategy for integrating threshold concepts into nursing curricula

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Journal Article
Nurse Education in Practice, 2015, 15 (6), pp. 549 - 555
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© 2015 Elsevier Ltd. In addition to acquiring a solid foundation of clinical knowledge and skills, nursing students making the transition from lay person to health professional must adopt new conceptual understandings and values, while at the same time reflecting on and relinquishing ill-fitting attitudes and biases. This paper presents creative teaching ideas that utilise published narratives and explores the place of these narratives in teaching threshold concepts to nursing students. Appreciating nuance, symbolism and deeper layers of meaning in a well-drawn story can promote emotional engagement and cause learners to care deeply about an issue. Moreover, aesthetic learning, through the use of novels, memoirs and picture books, invites learners to enter into imagined worlds and can stimulate creative and critical thinking. This approach can also be a vehicle for transformative learning and for enhancing students' understanding and internalisation of threshold concepts that are integral to nursing. Guided engagement with the story by an effective educator can help learners to examine taken-for-granted assumptions, differentiate personal from professional values, remember the link between the story and the threshold concept and re-examine their own perspectives; this can result in transformative learning. In this paper, we show how threshold concepts can be introduced and discussed with nursing students via guided engagement with specific literature, so as to prompt meaningful internalised learning.
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