Creating an Effective Learning Environment

Creating an environment that fosters student learning in their clinical externships is an important foundation for success. An effective learning environment will increase the student’s internal motivation to achieve and excel throughout the externship and will make the learning process more enjoyable for everyone involved.

Have you ever thought about some steps that you can take to create a learning environment that will help the student thrive in their learning?

Have you ever had a student who was not performing up to your expectations and wondered if there was a way to structure the externship for more success?

After you complete this online self-study module, you will be able to:
1. Describe the building blocks of an effective learning environment referencing Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
2. Describe some practical ways of creating an effective learning for your students

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs for motivating learning can help set the stage for creating and assessing the learning environment at your site. Maslow’s hierarchy considers the building blocks of motivation, with the needs in each “block “ required to be met before the learner can achieve the ultimate goal of self-actualization. Self-actualization can be defined as realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. Becoming everything one is capable of becoming.


Hutchinson, Linda 2003 The ABC of Learning and Teaching: Educational Environment;
Levett-Jones, Tracy and Lathlean, Judith (2008) Nurse Education in Practice 8, 103-111 Belongingness: A perspective for nursing students’ clinic learning.
Maslow, A. H., Frager, R. and Cox, R. (1970) Motivation and Personality Fachman, J. and McReynolds ( eds.); New York: Harper and Row

Join the Conversation:

Let us know some of the practical things you do to create an effective learning environment for your student externs.

Contact Us: If you have questions or comments about this learning module, please email Darlene Hicks at