Using ‘think aloud’ as a strategy for learning clinical reasoning in high fidelity case-based simulation for undergraduate nursing students

Calleja, Pauline, Nash, Robyn E., Tippett, Vivienne, Harvey, Theresa, Wirihana, Lisa A., & Malouf, Naomi (2011) Using ‘think aloud’ as a strategy for learning clinical reasoning in high fidelity case-based simulation for undergraduate nursing students. In SimHealth 2011 , 12-15th September 2011, Sydney.


AIMS This paper reports on the implementation of a research project that trials an educational strategy implemented over six months of an undergraduate third year nursing curriculum. This project aims to explore the effectiveness of ‘think aloud’ as a strategy for learning clinical reasoning for students in simulated clinical settings.

BACKGROUND Nurses are required to apply and utilise critical thinking skills to enable clinical reasoning and problem solving in the clinical setting [1]. Nursing students are expected to develop and display clinical reasoning skills in practice, but may struggle articulating reasons behind decisions about patient care. For students learning to manage complex clinical situations, teaching approaches are required that make these instinctive cognitive processes explicit and clear [2-5]. In line with professional expectations, nursing students in third year at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) are expected to display clinical reasoning skills in practice. This can be a complex proposition for students in practice situations, particularly as the degree of uncertainty or decision complexity increases [6-7]. The ‘think aloud’ approach is an innovative learning/teaching method which can create an environment suitable for developing clinical reasoning skills in students [4, 8]. This project aims to use the ‘think aloud’ strategy within a simulation context to provide a safe learning environment in which third year students are assisted to uncover cognitive approaches that best assist them to make effective patient care decisions, and improve their confidence, clinical reasoning and active critical reflection on their practice.

MEHODS In semester 2 2011 at QUT, third year nursing students will undertake high fidelity simulation, some for the first time commencing in September of 2011. There will be two cohorts for strategy implementation (group 1= use think aloud as a strategy within the simulation, group 2= not given a specific strategy outside of nursing assessment frameworks) in relation to problem solving patient needs. Students will be briefed about the scenario, given a nursing handover, placed into a simulation group and an observer group, and the facilitator/teacher will run the simulation from a control room, and not have contact (as a ‘teacher’) with students during the simulation. Then debriefing will occur as a whole group outside of the simulation room where the session can be reviewed on screen. The think aloud strategy will be described to students in their pre-simulation briefing and allow for clarification of this strategy at this time. All other aspects of the simulations remain the same, (resources, suggested nursing assessment frameworks, simulation session duration, size of simulation teams, preparatory materials).

RESULTS Methodology of the project and the challenges of implementation will be the focus of this presentation. This will include ethical considerations in designing the project, recruitment of students and implementation of a voluntary research project within a busy educational curriculum which in third year targets 669 students over two campuses.

CONCLUSIONS In an environment of increasingly constrained clinical placement opportunities, exploration of alternate strategies to improve critical thinking skills and develop clinical reasoning and problem solving for nursing students is imperative in preparing nurses to respond to changing patient needs.

References 1. Lasater, K., High-fidelity simulation and the development of clinical judgement: students' experiences. Journal of Nursing Education, 2007. 46(6): p. 269-276. 2. Lapkin, S., et al., Effectiveness of patient simulation manikins in teaching clinical reasoning skills to undergraduate nursing students: a systematic review. Clinical Simulation in Nursing, 2010. 6(6): p. e207-22. 3. Kaddoura, M.P.C.M.S.N.R.N., New Graduate Nurses' Perceptions of the Effects of Clinical Simulation on Their Critical Thinking, Learning, and Confidence. The Journal of Continuing Education in Nursing, 2010. 41(11): p. 506. 4. Banning, M., The think aloud approach as an educational tool to develop and assess clinical reasoning in undergraduate students. Nurse Education Today, 2008. 28: p. 8-14. 5. Porter-O'Grady, T., Profound change:21st century nursing. Nursing Outlook, 2001. 49(4): p. 182-186. 6. Andersson, A.K., M. Omberg, and M. Svedlund, Triage in the emergency department-a qualitative study of the factors which nurses consider when making decisions. Nursing in Critical Care, 2006. 11(3): p. 136-145. 7. O'Neill, E.S., N.M. Dluhy, and C. Chin, Modelling novice clinical reasoning for a computerized decision support system. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 2005. 49(1): p. 68-77. 8. Lee, J.E. and N. Ryan-Wenger, The "Think Aloud" seminar for teaching clinical reasoning: a case study of a child with pharyngitis. J Pediatr Health Care, 1997. 11(3): p. 101-10.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

253 since deposited on 03 Nov 2011
31 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 46828
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: High fidelity simulation, think aloud, nursing, research, undergraduate nurses, HERN
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NURSING (111000) > Nursing not elsewhere classified (111099)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Medicine Nursing and Health Curriculum and Pedagogy (130209)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > OTHER EDUCATION (139900)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Nursing
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2011 Please consult the authors
Deposited On: 03 Nov 2011 23:53
Last Modified: 04 Nov 2011 11:08

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page