Addressing the Needs of Underperforming Learners

Addressing the Needs of Underperforming Learners

Just like each and every one of us has unique qualities that make us different, so are the learning aspects of students in the educational arena.  Educators have the challenge to maintain the core components of the established curriculum but must find different means to distribute the information so that each student can benefit.  The obstacle is when the general population of student learning falls short for a select few students. A nurse educator could utilize formative assessments and evaluations to monitor learning/performance.  Identification early on will ensure adequate remediation for students prior to the semester’s conclusion and allow the student the best chance to meet the course objectives.  Establishing clear objectives and performing a midterm performance appraisal for students may guide the instructors ability to provide constructive criticism and direct towards remediation.

The case scenario I would like to discuss regards a specific student, (let’s call him Colin for sake of the story) has learning difficulties that are verbally and visually seen by the instructor.  He was verbally inappropriate with patients asking irrelevant questions and visually nervous pacing back and forth in the room waving his hands around aimlessly.  In addition, he was consistently apologetic and insecure at the bedside leaving the patient to feel vulnerable and afraid unsure of what his intentions were at the bedside.  Similarly, he stuttered tremendously and it affected his delivery of material when providing patient education.  Respectfully, patients pulled me aside and actually requested not to have the student back in their room because he made them uncomfortable.  Throughout the course of the semester he did not seek out additional support full well knowing the learning lab available to students included in their course.  “Weak students tend not to recognize their difficulties or seek support appropriately” (Cleland,, 2010, p. 184).   Colin clearly did not see a need to strengthen the areas of weakness; even though he verbally stated he has areas to work on; including the control of his body movements and stuttering; also his confidence level at the bedside.  I reassured him as the instructor that we can work on all those areas and even gave him positive reinforcement where he had strengths including a high understanding of the theoretical material.  His insight to medical terminology was astute and spot on with what assessments were required at the bedside.  It was when he was at the actual patient’s bedside that his delivery was weak.  He kept making excuses for his errors (although minor) and did not hold any personal regard for improving unless the instructor brought it to his attention.  This student did not disclose any learning deficits upon admission into the nursing program.  It could be assumed by others with the professional knowledge and diagnostic capability that this student was high functioning but on the spectrum requiring learning support.  For students with unique learning needs to be successful, a strategy their instructor must have is knowledge of the available resources for the student.  An additional strategy is establishing early on a professional rapport with each student.  Garside, (2009) states that “recognizing that students have individual strengths, weaknesses, learning styles and preferences concerning mode of assessment, offering choices of assessment was proposed as a strategy for inculcating the values of student centeredness and responsibility for learning” (p.144).  By individualizing each and every working relationship with the student, the instructor can better manage the means in which constructive criticism can be delivered.

Legal or ethical considerations that could arise in a situation as described above is discrimination suits or ethically viewed as targeting a minatory population of special need students. The educator’s behavior and interactions associated with supporting a learner’s performance should revolve around careful documentation of repeated failed learning events to support the recommended need for further support.  In addition, building a rapport with the student; establishing a professional yet trusting relationship that involves constructive criticism as an expectation throughout the course will also support the educator’s legal security from an imposed discrimination suit.  In the beginning of each and every semester I provide in print expected guidelines, objectives and expectations for the semester.  Because it is clearly stated prior to any clinical experience that constructive criticism is an expectation on both sides of the coin: including students capability to provide instructor criticism with no retaliation so long as it is professional; there should be no grey area of scrutiny for the possibility of discrimination.  Establishing this mutual agreement will solidify the intended agenda and having students understand that learning remediation may be a recommendation.  Dr. Terry Valigastates in the Laureate Education (2013e) that there are great benefits to identifying personal cues that each student may show to indicate remediation or need for learning support.  It is reassuring to me that I already established this need when teaching students presently.

Overall, when educators provide a positive learning experience it often includes careful thought out list of objectives and expectations and an intention to establish a positive working relationship with the student.


Cleland, J., Mackenzie, R.K., Ross, S.S., Sinclair, H.K., & Lee, A.J., (2010) A remedial

intervention linked to a formative assessment is effective in terms of improving student performance in subsequent degreeexaminiations. Medical Teacher, 32(4), 185-190).


Garside, J., Nhemachena, J.Z.Z., Williamsn, J., & Topping, A. (2009).  Repositioning

assessment: Giving students the choice of assessment methods. Nurse Education in Practice, 9(2), 141-148.


Laureate Education (Producer). (2013e). Identifying and managing learner performance

[Video file]. Retrieved from MyMedia Player. (NURS 6351)






  1. 1 page only
  2. Put APA format citations
  3. At least 3 references (APA format)… Articles must be 2011 to 2016.

Required Readings

Palmer, P. J. (2007). The courage to teach: Exploring the inner landscape of a teacher’s life. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

  • Chapter IV, “Knowing in Community: Joined by the Grace of Great Things” (pp. 91–116)


This chapter focuses on the cultivation of community in education.

Adeniran, R. K., & Smith-Glasgow, M. (2010). Creating and promoting a positive learning environment among culturally diverse nurses and students.Creative Nursing, 16(2), 53–58.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.


This article describes strategies for addressing learning needs in culturally diverse nursing education settings.

Bednarz, H., Schim, S., & Doorenbos, A. (2010). Cultural diversity in nursing education: Perils, pitfalls, and pearls. Journal of Nursing Education, 49(5), 253–260. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.


The authors examine how increasing diversity creates a complex educational environment, which can lead to difficulties for students and teachers. They also explain the need for strategies to address these issues and promote effective educational experiences for a diverse student body.

Davis, S., & Davis, D. (2010). Challenges and issues facing the future of nursing education: Implications for ethnic minority faculty and students.Journal of Cultural Diversity, 17(4), 122–126.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.


The authors examine the recruitment and retention of faculty and students from ethnically underrepresented groups in nursing education programs. They focus specifically on the imperative to cultivate a technologically savvy workforce that can compete in the global economy.

Duke, J., Connor, M., & McEldowney, R. (2009). Becoming a culturally competent health practitioner in the delivery of culturally safe care: A process oriented approach. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 16(2), 40–49.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.


This article examines the development of cultural competence, referencing Benner’s novice-to-expert continuum, to promote health outcomes of marginalized cultural groups.

Carr, S., & DeKemel-Ichikawa, K. (2012). Improving communication through accent modification: Growing the nursing workforce. Journal of Cultural Diversity, 19(3), 79–84.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.


As the authors note, the presence of accents and dialects among nursing students can lead to communication barriers that can adversely impact student performance and patient safety. This article examines the effectiveness of a pilot program enacted to address this issue.

Revell, S., & McCurry, M. (2010). Engaging millennial learners: Effectiveness of personal response system technology with nursing students in small and large classrooms. Journal of Nursing Education, 49(5), 272–275.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.


The authors describe the use of technology to engage students, drawing from knowledge of learning preferences for different age groups.

Oldenburg, N., & Hung, W. (2010). Problem solving strategies used by RN-to-BSN students in an online problem-based learning course. Journal of Nursing Education, 49(4), 219–222.

Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.


This article examines problem-based learning within an online context to promote nursing students’ development of essential skills.

Ierardi, J., Fitzgerald, D., & Holland, D. (2010). Exploring male students’ educational experiences in an associate degree nursing program. Journal of Nursing Education, 49(4), 215–218.