Simulation as a learning method in nursing education – A case study of students’ learning experiences during use of computer-driven patient simulators in preclinical studies

Jill Flo, Elisabeth K. Flaathen, Lisbeth Fagerström


Background: Increasing complexity and quality requirements in the health care system require that nursing students posses good practical skills. Internationally and domestically, this has lead to an increased use of simulation in preclinical studies in nursing education. In Norway, preclinical and clinical studies constitute 50% of nursing education. Nursing students can, through simulation with a computer-driven patient manikin, train connecting theory and practice together. In this way, students can become better prepared to meet the demands of clinical studies. The aim of the study was to evaluate the nursing students’ experiences connected to learning during use of a simulation manikin in preclinical studies during first-year undergraduate studies.

Methods: The study had a descriptive case study design. The evaluation included information, preparation, completion and implementation of learning goals during simulation in preclinical studies. The study encompassed two first-year classes. The data collection occurred post simulation through the means of a questionnaire given to 100 nursing students from the class of 2009 and 116 nursing students from the class of 2010. Predictive Analytics SoftWare for Vista was used for statistical analysis and the inductive content analysis of the replies to the open questions.

Results: Student evaluations show that use of simulation in preclinical studies was a positive experience and that the students have realized the day’s learning goals, despite criticism of the technical equipment, for example camera angle and lighting. In total, 88% of the nursing students answered that the observation of peers was beneficial to a great or very great extent, and 89.4% experienced that reflection during debriefing was beneficial to a great or very great extent. A correlation existed between students who responded that the observation of peers was beneficial and that reflection during debriefing was beneficial. About 77.8% of nursing students were well prepared for simulation. Qualitative analysis showed that a small number of students experienced discomfort when being observed during a simulation. Feedback from peers and instructors during debriefing was experienced as being very instructive. Being able to communicate with the simulation manikin was experienced as being positive.

Conclusions: Nursing students experienced simulation as being a beneficial learning method and requested more simulation during their education. They expressed that simulation provided good practical and theoretical learning.

Full Text:



Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

Copyright © Sciedu Press 
To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.