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  1. Boyer, Susan A. RN


There is an alternative to classroom lecture that provides faster, more complete instruction and introduces the learner to clinical application of skills in a safe environment. This teaching style uses multiple media to present professional, published resources that provide excellent quality, topic-specific information. The benefits of this type of teaching/learning module include improved use of student and instructor time, scheduling advantages, increased learning, revenue generation potential, and student empowerment. With this approach, a strong, sound educational base is built, and each course includes some degree or form of clinical application as a key component.


Traditional classroom instruction has many drawbacks that include the scheduling, preparation, and staffing coverage that are more and more difficult to arrange as healthcare facilities become "right-sized." Although the lecture-based teaching style only addresses a minority of learners' learning styles, tradition has firmly entrenched it as the foremost approach. In actual practice, it is a very two-dimensional style that encourages learners to be dependent on the instructor. Learners sit passively, as if they were bowls waiting to be filled with the core content. Instructors feel responsible for the amount and type of learning that occurs, despite the limitations of the presentation style. Once out of the classroom setting, there is often little or no opportunity for assistance in integrating new information into the practitioners' clinical practice.


Most hospital education departments have focused on teaching clinical skills from the traditional classroom setting. While it is true that experienced-based skills acquisition is safer and quicker when it rests upon a sound educational base (Benner, 1984), the transition from classroom to clinical practice has often been ignored. An alternative to the classroom lecture is assisted self-directed learning (ASDL) modules. These modules combine the best of all instructional resources and make the student more responsible for his or her learning process; however, these are not self-study units. The active involvement of the facilitator is key to the development of both knowledge base and clinical skills.


Developing and using ASDL modules is a viable alternative to classroom instruction. It is an approach that empowers the learner to take an active role in the learning process. This is not a "self study module," it is an integration of the best of both (self-study and classroom instruction) with extra resources and activities built into the process. It requires a change in thinking about teaching. First, the learner is empowered to take control over his or her learning process. This requires that the instructor trust the learner and relinquish control over the teaching/learning process. The learner must accept responsibility for the course and for accessing and using the materials and the instructor. This creates a very three-dimensional teaching/learning process that builds the learner's self confidence and critical thinking skills along with his or her knowledge base.