Using eLearning to support clinical skills acquisition: Exploring the experiences and perceptions of postgraduate first year pre-registration nursing students

King's College London logoJacqueline Bloomfield and Anne Jones
Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King’s College London

Keywords: e-learning, clinical skills, nurse education


Students entering nursing now come from a more diverse range of backgrounds than was the case a few decades ago and this is the case particularly with mature entrants to the profession. These students have a range of educational needs, and it is essential that these are met if the students are to be taught the range of clinical skills they need.

E-learning is considered a useful means of teaching clinical skills, but its utility in a mixed cohort of mature students has not been fully tested. In this project, postgraduate nursing students’ perceptions of e-learning were tested through focus groups and questionnaires. Initial results have shown that the students found e-learning beneficial
for the acquisition of clinical skills, with video clips considered particularly helpful. However, the students wanted e-learning to enhance, rather than replace, traditional learning methods.

Research Summary

Postgraduate nursing students at the Florence Nightingale School of Nursing at King’s College, London, are typical of current entrants to the profession in coming from a wide range of backgrounds, with different experiences of education. In order to assess these students’ experience of e-learning in the key area of clinical skills training, Bloomfield and Jones first recruited two focus groups from one first-year cohort of postgraduate students at this institution who had experienced a range of e-learning techniques. The discussions within the focus groups were used to develop a questionnaire on perceptions of e-learning within the larger student group. 

Eighty-six students out of a cohort of 180 returned questionnaires, and their responses confirmed that these students found the e-learning approach valuable. They particularly valued its flexibility and the fact that it encouraged them to learn independently; video clips were perceived as being especially helpful. However, the students found that the programs were time-consuming, and the navigation not always easy to follow. None of
them would like to see e-learning replacing the more traditional methods of teaching clinical skills completely.

Outputs and References

Key References

  • Bloomfield J, Roberts J and While A (2010) The effect of computer-assisted learning versus conventional teaching methods on the acquisition and retention of hand-washing theory and skills in pre-qualification nursing students: a randomized controlled trial. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 47, 287-294. 
  • Fleming S and Mckee G (2011) Undergraduate nursing students’ learning styles: A longitudinal study. Nurse Education Today 31(5), 444-449 
  • McVeigh H (2009) Factors influencing the use of e-learning in post-registration nursing students. Nurse Education Today 29(1), 91-99.
  • O’Brien F, Keogh B and Neenam K (2009). Mature students’ experiences of undergraduate nurse education programmes: the Irish experience. Nurse Education Today 29(6), 635-640.


  • Paper accepted for presentation at the European Conference of Nurse Educators. Cardiff, UK, October 2012.
  • Bloomfield, J.G. and C.A.G. Jones (2013). Using e-learning to support clinical skills acquisition: exploring the experiences and perceptions of graduate first-year preregistration nursing students – a mixed methods study. Nurse Education Today. 33(12), 1605-11.

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