Mya Sedwick, Campus Carrier staff writer
Gabe Smith, Campus Carrier staff writer
Last school year, Jeremy Worsham, the instructional design and technology librarian at Berry, was approached by the provost about creating a new classroom in the area attached to the Sandbox in Memorial Library. The project was motivated by the lack of space the previous nursing classroom in Evans Hall provided, even after the original classroom had been expanded. With growing class sizes within the nursing major, a traditional classroom setting was proving to be ineffective.
The new space allows professors to experiment with their teaching methods and also nurtures collaborative efforts between the students. Mobile furniture provides both teachers and students the ability to alter the classroom to best fit their current activity whether it be small or large group work, or even more lecture based.
Carrie Barr, clinical instructor for nursing, described her class as a “scrambled classroom,” meaning the structure of a typical class involves the integration of lecture as well as activity-based instruction. Both Worsham and Barr agree that an active learning environment is beneficial to all students, but especially those in STEM-based majors.
Barr mentioned the added benefits nursing majors get from active learning because these students have to go from classroom to clinicals, where they are asked to apply what they have learned to real life situations.
One piece of technology nursing majors have access to simulation mannequins located in the nursing suite of Evans Hall. These detailed simulation mannequins allow students to practice a wide spectrum of procedures, from a more basic skill like checking vitals to a more complex one such as inserting a nasogastric tube.
The use of simulations in the classroom is also an instigator for collaboration. Students have the opportunity to create their own patient scenarios, which their fellow classmates will then assess and diagnose.
“I think that we do an excellent job at Berry using the lab to the fullest capacity,” Tanya Naguszewski, clinical assistant professor, said.
This can be seen when students use the high fidelity simulators to practice patient transferral from bed to wheelchair and even mental health scenarios. Both senior Emma Talley and junior Maddy Hardin agree that the most defining aspect of the expanded nursing suite is its openness and activeness.
Hardin describes the newly opened space as a “flipped classroom,” in that its atmosphere of discussion and collaboration leads students to talk as much as, or even more than, their professors during class. Small tables of four to six students, along with whiteboards at each table, can support group discussions and collaborative learning, as the professor walks between tables assisting and directing each group, she said.
While this model of active learning is also supported in the library Sandbox, Talley says the new classroom improves upon it by offering students more sunlight and fewer distractions, making the space easier to learn in and allowing active learning to be more effective. Both students agree that the learning environment offered in both the Sandbox and the new space is critical to their clinical performance.