Guidelines for facilitators to implement the skills laboratory method at an undergraduate institution in the Western Cape
The clinical Skills Laboratory Method (SLM) is currently utilised at some universities in South Africa. This is an innovative clinical teaching and learning strategy that allows learner nurses to set their own goals and take responsibility for their learning. In 2007, the method had been introduced to the new first-year learners and subsequently the second, third and fourth year student levels followed. The skills laboratory method consists of five phases: orientation, visualisation, guided practice, independent learning, and assessment. It allows learners the opportunity to observe, practise, and develop their clinical skills in a safe and risk-free environment. In addition, it might assist learners with developing their critical thinking, critical reasoning, and decision-making abilities. As a clinical facilitator at a university, the researcher observed that certain problems occurred in relation to the implementation of the phases. The purpose of this study was to explore and describe learners’ perceptions of the manner in which the facilitators implemented the SLM and to describe guidelines for facilitators to improve the comprehensive implementation of the SLM of an undergraduate nursing programme. A quantitative, explorative, and descriptive research design was used to investigate how learner nurses perceive the skills laboratory method and to what extent the phases of the method were implemented. The accessible population (N = 980) consisted of learner nurses who were enrolled for a Bachelor of Nursing degree at a university in the Western Cape Province. In this study systematic stratified random sampling were used because class lists of all registered learner nurses from first to fourth year were available. The researcher identified every fourth learner (k = 4) of the four years respectively (n = 276). The researcher collected the data personally by means of a survey questionnaire with closed-ended questions that required responses to be indicated according to a 5-point Likert scale. It took approximately 15 - 20 minutes to complete the questionnaire. Descriptive statistics and a factor analysis were performed to reduce the data with the purpose of making it more interpretable. Data was analysed with the assistance of a statistician who used the Statistical Package for Social Sciences Version 21 (SPSS). For interpretation purposes, the researcher presented the statistical information in tables and figures. Twelve factors emerged from the factor analysis: (i) information received during orientation, (ii) introduction during orientation, (iii) orientation to resources in the skills laboratory, (iv) facilitator interaction during visualisation, (v) progression of demonstrations, (vi) authenticity of simulation, (vii) progression of guided practices, (viii) facilitator feedback during guided practice, (ix) encouragement during independent practice, (x) support during independent practice, (xi) planning of assessments, and (xii) facilitator’s role during assessments.The findings indicated that although facilitators did implement the phases of the SLM, some facilitators omitted or did not fully adhere to all the steps in each of the five phases. Factors such as the information and organisation during the orientation phase, knowledge and behaviour of facilitators throughout the phases, teaching strategies used by facilitators during demonstrations, and feedback to learners during assessments required attention. Twelve guidelines were described from those findings with the aim of improving the comprehensive implementation of the SLM and it was recommended that facilitators implement those factors to ensure positive learning experiences for learner nurses. The researcher ensured validity and reliability during the study and adhered to ethical considerations.