EDUCATION. The annual teaching award at Sahlgrenska Academy has been awarded to a group of teachers who have long worked with drama to prepare nursing students and specialist nurses for their careers. The drama exercises are well supported by research and the intended learning outcomes listed in the program syllabus, providing students with the opportunity to practice, test and reflect.
Linda Berg, Stina Larsson, Margret Lepp and Helena Wigert are the four teachers who are the recipients of the annual teaching award at Sahlgrenska Academy. They are receiving the award for developing and integrating drama as a type of instruction in nursing and specialist nursing training programs.
“The award means so much to us,” says Margret Lepp, whose three colleagues are in full agreement.
“We’ve worked on developing and implementing drama in the program over the past decade, and it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Receiving the award really makes us feel like the value of what we’re doing has been recognized,” says Stina Larsson, who is an adjunct professor and trained drama teacher.
“I believe that the award can open doors and provide opportunities for more people to work with drama education in other contexts and in more programs,” says Linda Berg, associate professor at the.
Life situation of others
In the encounter with patients, family, colleagues and students, nurses often face problems, conflicts and ethical dilemmas. Drama education is a tool that allows students to empathize with other people and to examine their ability to correct and adapt their attitudes and actions when the situation requires them to do so.
“Drama in education stimulates the imagination and our ability to empathize – it is a learning format that provides opportunities for cooperation and shared reflections, as well as personal and professional development. Reflecting on problems together and developing concrete solutions enhances learning. And we remember what we have experienced afterwards,” says Margret Lepp.
Among the different forms of drama education, group role play exercises are commonly used in the program at Sahlgrenska Academy. After warm-up exercises, small groups of participants perform for one another to illustrate ethical dilemmas and conflicts they have personally experienced, after which other participants experiment with different ways of handling the situation. The exercises are always led by an authorized drama teacher.
“Group role play is a terrific educational method for developing empathy. Afterwards the pediatric nursing students may say: ‘I had no idea that being the parent of a child who is hospitalized could feel this way. I’ll never subject the parents I meet to anything like this,’” says Helena Wigert, who is also an associate professor at the Institute of Health and Care Sciences.
Dedication and motivation
At Sahlgrenska Academy, drama education is used in semesters 3 and 6 within the first-cycle nursing program, with exercises linked to the course learning objectives. These students have already accumulated extensive clinical experience, which is important since it is the actual personal experiences and perceptions of the students that serve as the basis for the scenarios used in the program.
“The students really appreciate drama education. When we are done the students are always extremely positive and many say they would like to have more drama education in the program,” says Linda Berg.
“As an educator I have to constantly lead the drama and make sure that all participants are involved and engaged, so it really activates the students,” says Stina Larsson.
Drama education is also used in the bridging program for nurses with degrees from countries outside the EU/EAA and in the specialist nursing programs.
Drama is used in the specialist nursing program to explore various conflicts and to strengthen the nurses in their role as supervisors. A longer 30-credit course is offered at the second-cycle level that provides participants with the necessary tools to lead certain drama education exercises.
Firmly grounded in research
Drama education is also offered in health science programs at other higher education institutions, but in few places is this type of education as well-supported by research as at Sahlgrenska Academy. Last year, Susanna Höglund Arveklev defended her dissertation on drama within nursing education at the first- and second-cycle levels, which showed that drama is an effective educational tool that deepens student learning. Professor Margret Lepp, who was first in Sweden to defend a thesis on drama education in the nursing program in 1998, is a pioneer in the field of drama as an educational tool and also participates in international research collaborations that have resulted in several academic articles and reports. A new report on drama education and conflict management will soon be published at Sahlgrenska Academy.
According to the justification, the group received the award because their work can inspire and be transferred to other educational programs at Sahlgrenska Academy, and the teacher group wholeheartedly agrees with this assessment. They have already started thinking about how they could develop an independent course, perhaps for 7.5 credits, that focuses on healthcare professionals, supervisors and teachers in the health sciences.
“Drama has tremendous potential for university education and we can see many areas where it can be a highly effective educational tool. Our idea is that we can show the potential that drama offers. But so far, this is just at the idea stage, and it’s completely new to us,” says Linda Berg.
TEXT AND PHOTO: ELIN LINDSTRÖM CLAESSEN
Morag Morrison-Helme says
Wonderful to hear of such innovative and important work . This team are an inspiration for Health Care Education Internationally and illustrate how cross disciplinary approaches to pedagogy can be so powerful. My congratulations to the team, and to their institution for supporting such cutting edge approaches. Well done to Stina, Margret, Linda and Helena!