Karole Hogarth and Liz Ditzel have introduced initiatives to help nursing students retain and demonstrate their knowledge of pathophysiology.

Dr Karole Hogarth was aware that some students do not have a penchant for science or may see it as difficult, especially students who have not come to their Bachelor of Nursing study straight from school. After learning about healthy bodies in Year 1 (anatomy and physiology), in their second year of study the students need to pass a course on the pathophysiology of disease. Historically about 20 students would fail pathophysiology, and some would not pass a special exam either, and therefore be unable to proceed with their nursing studies.

The School of Nursing has changed the way they teach, with a blended learning approach that uses immersive learning with ADInstruments' online learning platform Lt along with traditional lectures, case studies introducing different diseases, and tutorials.  The second stage has been to redevelop the assessment process for pathophysiology, which Karole has done with Dr Liz Ditzel. After analysing student feedback from focus groups, to understand the issues from their perspective, the two major examinations were both changed. The first was broken down into four tests, examining the same content in the same way, but in smaller chunks. The second examination was changed so that it was case-study based, to align with the way the students were now learning.

Karole has also analysed the student marks over the past five years to compare with the changes in the way the students have been learning and are being assessed. In 2014, when video-based case studies were introduced to the learning environment, only four students did not pass pathophysiology. In 2015, when the changes in assessment were made, no students failed pathophysiology. This significant drop has continued with just two students who didn't pass in 2016. Karole's and Liz's research confirms that using case studies for both teaching and assessment is an effective way for students to learn and to apply the knowledge they need for clinical practice. They are sharing this research with nurse educators nationally and internationally.

March 2018