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2016 Linfield Magazine Winter

Drawing students into learning Joanna Rowe admits that she is no artist. But she creates cartoons to help nursing students grasp complex subjects and hone critical thinking skills. Instead of giving lectures and power point presentations, Rowe, professor of nursing, walks to the white board, grabs a marker and draws a cartoon representing a specific medical condition, such as sickle cell anemia. Lines represent veins and small round red circles represent healthy red blood cells. She explains that when a child with sickle cell becomes stressed with fever or dehydration, the cells become elongated in a semi-circular shape, similar to a sickle, and have difficulty passing through veins and arteries. Using lines, arrows and thought balloons, she walks students through various scenarios and treatment options. Rowe began perfecting this method some 20 years ago when too many nursing students were failing nursing courses and clinicals. Always curious, and with a love of learning, she consulted with Ellyn Arwood, a national expert in neuroscience learning theory. They discovered that 95 percent of nursing students learn through visual mental processing – they actually think in pictures, Rowe said. Rowe ultimately changed the entire way she teaches based on how the brain processes new information. “It’s fascinating to me that when I work with students, I have to create a picture in their heads or create a visual image about a specific condition or disease,” she said. “I can’t just tell them, so I cartoon it. This is not art. I’m drawing for language.” Rowe and Arwood have continued the research and developed a nursing learning simulation model using visual methods. They have presented workshops at nursing schools around the country and their simulation model was tapped as one of the top things to look for in nursing education in 2014. Some of her Linfield colleagues have implemented the methods as well. Mallie Kozy, dean of the Linfield-Good Samaritan School of Nursing, calls Rowe a master educator because she possesses a skill set and attitude toward teaching and her students that yield consistent results in exceptional learning. “She is very rigorous, has higher standards for the quality of education than almost anyone else I have ever worked with, yet students always feel that she is on their side; rooting for them, championing their success,” Kozy said. “If a faculty member is struggling with a group of students they go to Joanna first for ideas on how to be better. That’s my idea of a master educator.” 1 4 - l i n f i e l d m a g a z i n e Winter 2016 Professor Joanna Rowe uses cartooning to explain various medical conditions to Jason Kintz ’16, a technique she has developed over the last 20 years to help students grasp complex subjects. Studies have shown that the majority of nursing students learn through visual mental processing.


2016 Linfield Magazine Winter
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