Nursing students’ perceptions and experiences of concept mapping as a learning tool in a human physiology course

  • V. Nuuyoma
  • S.K. Fillipus


Background. Nursing students perceive human physiology as one of the most challenging courses, and it is also the course most often failed. To address this perceived challenge, a university campus introduced concept mapping to facilitate learning among nursing students in the human physiology course. Despite evidence of its use in other disciplines and educational contexts, it is not known how nursing students perceive and experience its use when learning human physiology.
Objective. To explore and describe the perceptions and experiences of nursing students’ use of concept mapping as a learning tool in a human physiology course.
Methods. A qualitative descriptive study was conducted at a university campus in Namibia. Data were obtained through three focus group discussions with 18 second-year nursing students in the Bachelor of Nursing Science (Clinical) Honours programme, who were conveniently sampled. Transcriptions from the discussions were analysed following Tesch’s 8-step coding process. Ethical approval and permission to conduct the study were granted by the campus Research Ethics Committee in the School of Nursing, University of Namibia.
Results. Four themes emerged from the analysis: concept mapping facilitates deep learning; concept mapping as a group activity; effects of concept mapping on students’ academic performance; and implications of concept mapping for learning resources.
Conclusion. Nursing students had positive experiences and perceptions of concept mapping as a learning tool for human physiology. However, students felt that this learning tool is time consuming and requires many learning resources. Considering its benefits for learning, it is recommended that concept mapping be used as it promotes deep learning, which in turn leads to in-depth knowledge of human physiology. Nevertheless, students should be guided on time-management strategies and learning resource options available in resource-constrained settings.


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