Learning Theories in Nursing Education

Topic: Nursing
Words: 312 Pages: 1

Experiential Learning Theory in Nursing Education

Experiential learning revolves around the concept that learning occurs through experience. Given that nursing is a practice-based profession that requires real-life application of various theories, an experience-based learning approach is essential during nursing education (Murray, 2018). Strategies include role-playing, case studies, and concept mapping (Murray, 2018). Experiential learning is more likely to produce self-directed, critically thinking nurses capable of navigating the complex healthcare industry instead of more traditional passive methods (Murray, 2018). Koivisto, Niemi, Multisilta, and Ericsson (2017) delve into the application of Kolb’s experiential learning theory in clinical nursing education via a 3D simulation game. There are four facets of Kolb’s cyclical learning process: “concrete experience, reflective observation, abstract conceptualization, and active experimentation” (Koivisto et al., 2017, p. 386). The realism, instant feedback, and active experimentation in virtual patient simulations fulfill all of Kolb’s requirements and provide students with a more substantial experience of real clinical situations (Koivisto et al., 2017). Given that 3D simulations are controlled environments that present zero risk, they are ideal for experiential learning and should be fully integrated into nursing curriculums.

Adult Learning Theory

Adult learning theory is based on the idea that adults utilize prior knowledge and experiences during learning and focus more on practice-based learning relevant to their objectives. Numerous techniques have been developed by focusing on students’ previous experiences and fostering critical reflection or social interaction (Mukhalalati & Taylor, 2019). Educators can utilize these techniques and develop a curriculum that focuses on experiential, self-directed learning rather than passive consumption of information. For example, strategies such as concept maps, simulations, role-play experiments, group discussions, course portfolio development, and journal clubs have been proven to be useful educational models (Mukhalalati & Taylor, 2019). These activities focus more on hands-on learning, allowing students to utilize previous knowledge and create new knowledge either in controlled experimental settings or through peer interaction.


Koivisto, J. M., Niemi, H., Multisilta, J., & Eriksson, E. (2017). Nursing students’ experiential learning processes using an online 3D simulation game. Education and Information Technologies, 22(1), 383-398. doi:10.1007/s10639-015-9453-x

Mukhalalati, B. A., & Taylor, A. (2019). Adult learning theories in context: a quick guide for healthcare professional educators. Journal of medical education and curricular development, 6, 1-10. doi:10.1177/2382120519840332

Murray, R. (2018). An overview of experiential learning in nursing education. Advances in social sciences research journal, 5(1), 1-6.

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