In 2020, a research team led by Kendra L. Rieger conducted a study to integrate and evaluate arts-based pedagogy into an undergraduate nursing programme at a mid-western Canadian university. The researchers considered Arts-based learning to be very important for nursing students to nurture their creative thinking, which is critical for developing innovative solutions in clinical practice. Two groups of students participated in arts-based pedagogies: Third-year nursing students in a clinical placement course created an arts-based reflection about a community clinical experience and shared it in a group seminar, and nursing students in a third-year politics and policy course created and presented photo essays to reflect on a local justice issue. Both assignments were evaluated with a focus on their ability to conceptually link it to clinical practice, the level of reflection, and effective communication of ideas rather than artistic ability.
Most of the students said they experienced the creative assessment as a catalyst for important and transformative learning. Most felt that the exercise encouraged them to transform their perspectives and learn skills that would be important for professional nursing.
Students were initially overwhelmed by the tasks as they were used to prescriptive assignments. Many students found the most challenging aspect of the assignment to be the decision-making process about what medium they would use. Students were encouraged to think creatively through small brainstorming sessions. Their learning occurred when they reflected on their efforts to form creative links between art and clinical experiences. Student projects often changed direction as they worked on them, which nurtured their self-evaluation, critical thinking, and transformative learning. However, some students felt that their assignments were forced or fake, meaning they experienced negligible learning.
To limit this forced response, it is important that students choose a medium or subject that they feel personally interested in to increase their internal motivation and effort.
The creative reflections were presented in small groups of peers. Students said they valued this part of the assignment as they found their peers’ comments to be meaningful and opportunities to learn vicariously through another’s experience. Overall, roughly 80% of the students found the creative assignment to be meaningful and valuable for their professional development. They also thought that the group seminars increased their sense of belonging in their student community.
Kendra L. Rieger, Wanda M. Chernomas, Diana E. McMillan, and Francine L. Morin. “Navigating creativity within arts-based pedagogy: Implications of a constructivist grounded theory study.” Nurse Education Today, Volume 91 (2020): 104465. ISSN 0260-6917, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nedt.2020.104465