Using experiential learning to enhance nursing student knowledge and attitudes about diabetes self-care

Cynthia Fenske, Barbara Freeland, Deborah M. Price, Elizabeth Brough


Diabetes is a significant health care issue that requires healthcare providers to be both knowledgeable about the disease and have positive attitudes toward diabetes self-care issues.  Nursing students receive a tremendous amount of information about diabetes in their undergraduate education but it is often presented without an opportunity for application.  The purpose of this project was to evaluate the effectiveness of an experiential learning innovation with junior level baccalaureate nursing students enrolled in a medical-surgical nursing class.   In addition to the traditional classroom presentations, students were randomly assigned to “live with diabetes” (LWD) (n = 106) or a control group (n = 109). The intervention group students took on one of five diabetic personnas representing the most common treatment regimens for Type I and Type II diabetes.  The intervention group reflectively journaled daily about their experiences, observations and thoughts about living with diabetes.  The Brief Diabetes Knowledge Test (BDKT) and the Diabetes Attitude Scale (DAS-3) were administered in a pre and posttest fashion at the beginning and end of the diabetes unit of the course. Significant improvement occurred for all students in both knowledge and attitude (p ≤ .005). Although the additional effort of providing the LWD experience may enhance the improvements, simply calling attention to the chronicity and demands of diabetes self-care  through various experiential learning opportunities may promote student learning and understanding.

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Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

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

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