Under Constructivism: exploring the educational theory behind the construction of the Virtual Health and Wellness Project


In 2007, the School of Nursing Midwifery and Postgraduate Medicine at Edith Cowan University introduced a web-based resource to align with the planned introduction of a hybrid Problem Based Learning (PBL) curriculum. Undergraduate nursing students undertaking the Bachelor of Science (Nursing) were given the opportunity to meet a variety of patients on the Virtual Health and Wellness website. This site enabled nursing students to explore case studies in various nursing areas such as paediatrics, critical care, medical/surgical and aged care. Students progress through a scenario which incorporates theory relating to anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, psychosocial issues, research, professional issues and relevant nursing skills. Each scenario is formulated around a set of learning outcomes which are evaluated by the student at the completion of the case study. During practical laboratory sessions students are able to contextualise their learning and seek informal peer feedback.

The development of these case scenarios is context rich and built around the central aim of engaging students in self-directed learning. This discovery learning leads to higher comprehension and transferability of knowledge. Students will be able to practise the skills and theory in practical laboratory sessions, which adds a functional dimension to the online material, making the meanings derived from the combination of theory and practice more profound and ‘real world’. Gibbon (2005) states that “in PBL we take a collection of information, pertinent to the problem. We learn a little about each and synthesise it to solve the problem, like a jigsaw” (p. 6).

This presentation will present the findings from an evaluative survey conducted among Undergraduate Student Nurses examining aspects of the Virtual Health and Wellness Centre (VHAWC) two years post first development. In particular the structure, content and technical aspects of the site evaluation will be discussed in terms of creating online environments conducive to meaningful and contextual learning.


Further information about the Australasian Nurse Educators Conference may be accessed here