Learner Engagement: Strategies to enhance engagement-Part 2

In part 1, I delved into the importance of Nurse Learner Engagement and why I felt strongly enough to make this my passion within my specialty or niche as a Nursing Professional Development and Education Consultant. We know that in these times, now more than ever, outcomes are Key! Data is essential. There is no getting around it as that is the proof that all our educational efforts are actually going in the right direction. The video snip-it below is from my concurrent session at the 46th annual Professional Nurse Educator Group (PNEG) national conference, hosted by Cleveland Clinic. In the clip, I discuss the definition of Engagement (from an Education perspective) and the fact that all those facets feed directly into the learners level of motivation.

How can we obtain and/or increase nurse learner engagement? Multiple layers of evidence support that the "ideal learner" is an engaged learner. As Nursing Professional Development practitioners, consultants, specialists, we need to meet our learners where they are in their learning journeys, try to adapt or adjust to their learning styles and preferences (as best we can) all while promoting an environment that is conducive to learning and their ability to think (Harper & Maloney, 2016). That seems like a tall order but we do this on a regular basis, often times without even knowing it. So, what are some ways we can enhance nurse learner engagement?

  • Make it an Active Learning environment: Traditional methods of lecturing, especially to adult learners, are no longer effective in carrying out your mission of changing behavior-the definition of learning. Passive, instructor-centered methodologies are antiquated and put no responsibility or accountability on the learner. According to Omick (2019), nursing students who are engaged and participate in an active learning environment gain a wealth of knowledge in theory and concepts and do a better job of bringing the theory into practice. Activities such as group work, think-pair-share teams, gamification (both digital and non-digital formats), role play, simulation, unfolding case studies.

  • Learner-Centered approaches: According to Joan Kavanagh, MSN, RN, NEA-BC, in a Q&A session with Consult QD Cleveland Clinic (2018), learner-centric Nursing programs and education, are "essential". We need to put the learner in the drivers seat in an effort to have them, as the clinician, be able to think through complex situations that may be presented to them. Exercises in clinical reasoning and clinical judgment can only be improved with the learner leading the way. As Educators, we need to move away from being "knowledge disseminators to learning facilitators-give the onus of the education to the learner, have a "focus on learning", not just a "focus on teaching" (Pilcher, 2015). It is very hard for us as Educators to let go and let the learner take the lead but in these rapidly changing times in healthcare, our healthcare education needs to see that in order for their to be improvement in performance, we have to let the learning live with the student. Flipped classrooms are excellent ways to facilitate learner-centric approaches. Provide the content in which the learner needs to read or review, an article, a video, a podcast, etc. The next day, set the scene and have the students break apart the information they received and build it back up again, using their methods of clinical reasoning, judgement and decision making. Self-paced online learning modules that can be accessed anywhere, anytime.

  • Increased integration of educational technology and mobile learning: This is an area that is near and dear to me and I will be devoting a whole blog post to this but felt it was also definitely relevant to mention here as a strategy to enhance learner engagement. Nothing puts the learner in the center of all the learning fun than having access to their education anytime, anywhere. This is where education is in right now. Learners can and should literally be anywhere and be able to easily access their learning at anytime. Having that level of autonomy and control, helps build the engagement and motivation levels of the learner. Use of video, podcasts, digital gamification, interactive videos with quizzing elements, platforms such as VoiceThread, online chat groups and discussion forums, are all the rave in teaching and development. Leaders in the education and professional development industry are harnessing the tools our learners already have and leveraging them to make the education a more meaningful, memorable experience for everyone involved.


The aforementioned are a few of the main strategies we can use to enhance learner engagement. Teaching strategies that promote student engagement will also promote transfer of learning to practice. We are still experiencing issues related to the theory-to-practice gap or "preparation-to-practice" gap and until there are changes to the way we design and deliver our education, that gap will either persist or continue to grow, especially as the healthcare landscape rapidly shifts towards older, more complex patient situations. Once we improve our learner outcomes, patient outcomes will also improve, exhibiting decreases in error and decreases in cost related to error.

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ConsultQD-Cleveland Clinic (2018, July 25). Creating and Sustaining Excellence in Nursing Education: Advice for nurse educators to help new graduates succeed. Retrieved from https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/creating-and-sustaining-excellence-in-nursing-education/

Gunberg Ross, J., & Bruderie, E. (2018). Effects of Active, Student-Centered Teaching Strategies on Nursing Students' Knowledge, Skills, Attitudes and Comfort Related to Patient Safety. Nurse Educator, 43(1), 2-3.

Harper, M., & Maloney, P. (2016). Nursing Professional Development: Scope and standards of practice. Chicago, IL: Association for Nursing Professional Development

Pilcher, J. (2015). e-Learning and Innovative Learning Options. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, Ask an Expert column.

Woolwine, S., Romp, C., & Jackson, B. (2019). Game On: Evaluating the Impact of Gamification in Nursing Orientation on Motivation and Knowledge Retention. Journal for Nurses in Professional Development, 35(5), 255-260.