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Usefulness of problem-based learning in clinical nursing education: Experiences from the University of Botswana

KS Dithole
PT Sandy
G Thupayagale-Tshweneagae


Problem based learning (PBL) in clinical nursing is described as an effective learning strategy that can encourage students to become self-directed learners and to master clinical skills that can be transferable to service users. This study explores the usefulness of PBL in a nursing clinical setting from the nursing students’ perspectives. This phenomenological research involved 15 third year nursing students at the University of Botswana enrolled in 2009-2011 the year of the study. Semi-structured interview guide was used to collect data from nursing students. Data were analysed manually using Smith’s (2005) interpretive phenomenological analysis framework. Four major themes emerged from the interviews as knowledge acquisition, skill development, theory-practice synergy and PBL does not fix it all. The study concludes that although PBL is useful, there is still no convincing evidence that it could be used alone as a teaching strategy or that its effectiveness supersedes other teaching strategies.

Keywords: Botswana, clinical nursing, nursing students, problem based learning.