Mental models, metaphors and their use in the education of nurses

Burke, L.M. and Wilson, A.-M. (1997) Mental models, metaphors and their use in the education of nurses. Journal of Nursing Management, 5(6), pp. 351-357. ISSN (print) 0966-0429


A great deal of nurses' confidence in the use of information technology (IT) depends both on the way computers are introduced to students in the college and how such education is continued and applied when they are practitioners. It is therefore vital that teachers of IT assist nurses to discover ways of learning to utilize and apply computers within their workplace with whatever methods are available. One method which has been introduced with success in other fields is the use of mental models and metaphors. Mental models and metaphors enable individuals to learn by building on past learning. Concepts and ideas which have already been internalized from past experience can be transferred and adapted for usage in a new learning situation with computers and technology. This article explores the use of mental models and metaphors for the technological education of nurses. The concepts themselves will be examined, followed by suggestions for possible applications specifically in the field of nursing and health care. Finally the role of the teacher in enabling improved learning as a result of these techniques will be addressed.

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