Nursing students' experience of active learning methodologies

Summary of literature review conducted by the team from UES - Universidad de El Salvador.

Authors: Luna Gomez Juan Jose, Lopez Perez Jose Ismael, Henriquez Rodriguez Jorge Alberto, De Cortez Henriquez Mayra Lissette.

Introduction: Active learning methodologies, aim to generate significant learning in students, such as: acquisition and development of skills in knowing – knowing, knowing – being and knowing – doing, for which, it is necessary to establish various methodologies that contemplate it, which are problem-based learning (PBL), clinical simulation, role-playing among others; likewise, the use of digital tools that facilitate the availability of time and space in students.

Therefore, it is important to know, understand and analyze the diverse experiences that these methodologies generate in students, because they are the ones who experience the development of them, taking a leading and essential role in their learning, in the different virtual and face-to-face scenarios.

Methods: The search and retrieval of information was performed through the EBSCO Host, Pubmed and LILACS databases, in which, the keywords experience, nursing students, methods and active learning were used; to optimize the search for information, Boolean operators such as AND and NOT were used; likewise, search filters such as: the year that contemplated from 2017 to 2021, the English, Spanish and Portuguese language, documents in full text and open access, obtaining an information retrieval of 32 articles, of which 11 articles were selected, because, they met the inclusion criteria and responded to the research question What is the experience of nursing students with active learning methodologies?

Results: In relation to the desire to influence the teaching process with active learning methodologies, it was evidenced that there are different expectations of students towards the role of teachers, which highlighted that teachers should improve the indications and empower themselves in the development of learning methodologies and virtual environments of education so that students can adequately develop the activities and generate significant learning in them. (2)

In relation to the above, the following experiences were obtained that students are of the opinion that teachers need to improve virtual exam instructions and are of the opinion that teachers need to improve virtual exam instructions (1).  Also, that when using PBL, the tutor needs to understand and manage it. Also, the tutor needs to know how to correct and help students to concentrate (6).

Regarding better interaction in active learning, students stated that active learning methodologies improve interaction with the environment in which they will develop as professionals and strengthen soft skills, which is very significant for them. According to students, video recording encourages more teamwork (1), and virtual reality is interactive (5). Students also consider that virtual exams are more dynamic (1), but lack of Internet access creates problems (4). Internships encourage reciprocal training in the nurse and student, and teaching is reciprocal in the teacher-student relationship (7). Interaction fosters trust, promotes the exchange of ideas, encourages opinions, improves communication and keeps the mind engaged (8).

On the other hand, regarding the different learning methodological preferences, most students prefer team learning (2). Some students prefer face-to-face teaching to distance learning (4, 8, 11). On the other hand, some students prefer online classes, because they can review them at any time (4). According to students, education would not be good if clinical training were missing, and without clinical training, competencies could not be acquired, especially in nursing careers (4).

The nursing students receive experience in real health situations in different environments that offer active learning methodologies. The active methods establish experience prior to the work environment (7), allows to become familiar with different health situations (3, 7) and to assume different roles of health professionals (7) in the environment where they will go to work (3). The active learning methods also facilitate students’ response in real life situations (7).

The active learning methodologies promote being active in the learning process. In students’ expressive emotional processes in active learning, improved embodied confidence (1, 10), fun (1, 5), success (10) and the level of student satisfaction was higher (2). In addition, students experienced embarrassing situations (8).

In terms of values, active learning methods promote responsibility in nursing students’ learning, specifically in collaborative work in the active method (2). For example, video recording encourages more responsibility” (2). Students felt that interactive situations fostered responsibility (8) and allowed students to acquire more responsibility for the role to play with the population (3). Students’ preparation was also better, evidenced by participation (2).

Also, it improves decision-making in the methodologies. It was obtained that the active method and PBA help them to justify their actions in nursing care (7), they will perform promoting the good practice of the profession (7, 8) and they will correctly apply the problem-solving method (7).

In addition to the above, the cognitive processes of students with active learning methodologies improve, because these methods generate active thinking (3), understanding becomes greater (5, 6, 8) and students achieve deep learning and its respective requirements (6). Active learning methods improve attitudes, help with performance problems and overcome students’ limitations, because with problems positive results are achieved (8). In addition, learning videos provide a quick way to learn (9).

With respect to reflective growth in active learning. Interactive and meaningful learning transform the learner (7). Active methods promote reflection (7, 8), e.g., internships integrate reflective thinking into practice and provide theoretical and practical learning for students (7).

Likewise, it promotes the development of awareness in active learning, which referred that engagement is very active in simulation-based learning (3). Interactive learning creates awareness in students’ actions (8). With the active learning methodologies promoting and developing practical and attitudinal skills and the practice of values, generating significant learning in them that will allow them as future professionals to provide comprehensive care to the person, family and society with a scientific, humanistic and ethical basis.



  • When students were asked about their experiences on active learning methodologies, they affirmed that the teaching process in active learning methodologies it is necessary that teachers are constantly updating themselves to learn the correct handling and application of these methodologies; so that they can be incorporated in the programs and curricula of the nursing career, with the purpose of generating in students a better performance, an active and leading role in the learning process in the different courses or subjects. It will also allow the Smart Nurse methodology to be incorporated in the different curricula of the IES.
  • When students were asked about their experiences on active learning methodologies, they stated that they generate experiences of real situations in different health environments, allowing students to recognize the role and functions that the professional performs independently and collaboratively with the health team in the different labor fields, therefore, clinical simulation, internship, role playing and PBL are essential in the integral formation of the nursing student at different levels; likewise, the use of them will contribute to the implementation of the Smart Nurse methodology.
  • When students were asked about their experiences with active learning methodologies, they referred that they promote critical-scientific thinking, effective communication skills, practical skills, problem solving with assertiveness, expressions of emotions, application of human and ethical values in the formation of nursing students in an active way. Therefore, the incorporation of the methodologies in the study programs at the different levels of training will promote them to take a leading role; it will also generate in them significant learning that will allow them to develop comprehensive care to the person, family, and community, under the approach of values, morals and ethics in the different labor fields. It will also serve as a theoretical and scientific basis to define the Smart Nurse methodology.



  1. Ahlstrom, L y Holmberg C. A comparison of three interactive examination designs in active learning classrooms for nursing students. Sweden. 2021.
  2. Branney J y Priego J. A mixed methods evaluation of team-based learning for applied pathophysiology in undergraduate nursing education. England. 2018.
  3. Wang Y y Ji Y. How do they learn: types and characteristics of medical and healthcare student engagement in a simulation-based learning environment. China. 2021
  4. Ramos A, Leal C, Moral J y Ruzafa M. Experiences of Nursing Students during the Abrupt Change from Face-to-Face to e-Learning Education during the First Month of Confinement Due to COVID-19 in Spain. Spain. 2020.
  5. Hardie P, Darley A, Carroll L. Nursing & Midwifery students’ experience of immersive virtual reality storytelling: an evaluative study. Ireland. 2020.
  6. Svensson J, Axén A, Andersson E. Nursing students’ experiences of what influences achievement of learning outcomes in a problem-based learning context. Sweden. 2020.
  7. Marques A, Sanchez M. Perspective of nursing students about active learning and insertion in the job market. Brazil. 2020
  8. Al- Natour A, AlNatour A, Ahmad Ali R. Students’ perceptions and experiences in a health promotion course using interactive learning. 2021.
  9. Li-Ling HSU, Hsiu-Chuan HSIANG, Yi-Hua TSENG, Siang-Yun HUANG4 and Suh-Ing HSIEH. Nursing students’ experiences of using a smart phone application for a physical assessment course: A qualitative study. Japan. 2019.
  10. Ahlstrom L and Holmberg C. A comparison of three interactive exam designs in active learning classrooms for nursing students. Sweden. 2021.
  11. Langegård U, Kiani K, Susanne J, Svensson N. The experiences of nursing students in a pedagogical transition from campus distance learning using digital instruments. Sweden. 2021.