Dr Gwen Erlam

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Senior Lecturer

Email: gwen.erlam@aut.ac.nz

Links to relevant web pages:

Academic appointments:

  • Senior Lecturer,, AUT (2009 - 2025)


  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (USA), University of Northern Colorado
  • Master of Arts in Education, Denver Seminary
  • Master of Arts in Old Testament Studies, Denver Seminary
  • Master of Education, Massey University
  • Doctorate in Health Science (DHSc), AUT
  • ACAT (Advanced Certification in Adult Teaching), UCOL, Palmerston North


My research interests come from a culmination of 15 years in undergraduate nursing education. I am interested in the use of educational platforms which maximize engagement for millennial students. These platforms include online learning and simulation.

All generational cohorts (each of around 20 years) are characterized by certain traits. The newest generation, the Millennials, are characterized by considering themselves (1) special; (2) sheltered; (3) confident; (4) team-oriented; (5) high-achieving; (6) pressured; and (7) conventional. Millennial connections with technology (specifically social media) have redefined not only how this generation forms connections, but how they prefer to learn. For today’s students to acquire complex problem-solving, critically reflexive analytical thinking, and succinct communication skills in appropriately technology-assisted contexts, educators will have to approach teaching differently. Transmission-based modes of education are not 'speaking' to many millennial students who are interested in fast-paced, team-oriented, multi-tasking, technologically savvy, immersive classrooms. It is these classrooms which are the focus of much of my research.

Simulation as a teaching platform has the ability to meet many of these millennial expectations secondary to its immersive, technology-based, problem-solving, and team-oriented characteristics. When designed with scaffolds in place to minimise load on working memory, simulation has shown an ability to improve clinical reasoning in critical patient situations in a manner which has the potential to improve patient safety and outcomes. Students trained using simulation are better able to recruit assistance in deteriorating patient situations, and have shown improved communication skills. This new habit formation has the potential to improve safety in healthcare environments in a similar way to what has been achieved in the airline industry through the use of pilot-training simulators. However, this impact will not be achieved without extensive training of educators in creation and implementation of simulated scenarios in order to optimize the impact of this emerging teaching platform.

Research interests:

Simulation use in training all health professionals
Online and distance education
Scaffolds used to enhance learning in professional education
Generational persona along with the effect on learning preferences

Teaching summary:

I have taught undergraduate nursing for 19 years with a brief stent (one year) as the Head of Nursing. I am currently teaching in interprofessional education at AUT along with managing a post-graduate suite of courses involving health professional educators interested in embedding simulation and other types of platforms into educational pathways.

Fields of research:

  • Higher Education
  • Education Assessment and Evaluation
  • Educational Technology and Computing
  • Teacher Education and Professional Development of Educators
  • History and Philosophy of Education

Professional activities:

Featured professional activities

  • The use of human actors in the simulated learning environment in mental health nursing education, AUT (2015 - ongoing)

Facilitation, networking and collaboration

  • Methods of Research Enquiry, AUT undergraduate course (2019)
  • The use of human actors in the simulated learning environment in mental health nursing education, AUT (2015 - ongoing)
  • , ( - ongoing)

Research outputs:

Journal articles

  • Erlam, G., Smythe, L., & Wright-St Clair, V. (2018). Action research and millennials: Improving pedagogical approaches to encourage critical thinking. Nurse Education Today, 61, 140-145. doi:10.1016/j.nedt.2017.11.023

  • Erlam, G. D., Smythe, Liz., & Wright-St Clair, Valerie. (2017). Simulation is not a pedagogy. Open Journal of Nursing, 7(7). doi:10.4236/ojn.2017.77059

  • Erlam, G., Smythe, L., & Wright--St Clair, V. (2017). Navigating the storm of deteriorating patients: seven scaffolds for simulation design. Open Journal of Nursing, 07(06). doi:10.4236/ojn.2017.76051

  • Erlam, G. D., Smythe, Liz., & Wright -- St Clair, Valerie. (2016). Simulation and Millennials -- the perfect storm. Open Jounal of Nursing, 6. doi:10.4236/ojn.2016.69071

  • Erlam, G. D., Smythe, L., & Wright, V. (2016). Simulation and Millennials -- the perfect storm. Open Journal of Nursing, 6. doi:10.4236/ojn.2016.69071

Conference contributions

  • Erlam, G., Smythe, E., & Wright-St Clair, V. (2018). Modelling best practice to shape student performance in simulation. In 7th International Nurse Education Conference. Banff: Nurse Educators International. Retrieved from https://www.elsevier.com/

  • Erlam, G. D. (2016). Six steps to coaching Oscar performances from under-graduate nursing students in simulation: An action research study. In Australasian Simulation Congress - ASC 2016. Melbourne: Sim Health Conference. Retrieved from http://www.simulationcongress.com/program/

  • Erlam, G. D. (2014). How to coach 'Oscar' performances out of Millennial healthcare students in simulated learning environments. In 13th Annual Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning Conference. Florida.

  • Erlam, G. D., & Bamford-Wade, A. (2012). Simulation in undergraduate nursing education. In AKO Simulation Australia Conference. Auckland.

  • Erlam, G., & Bamford-Wade, A. F. (2012). Simulation in nursing education. In Auckland Simulation Australia Showcase Event and Simulation Summit. Auckland. Retrieved from http://www.simulationaustralia.org.au/

  • Erlam, G. D. (2012). Research in Simulated Learning Environments. In CDNM (ANZ) Laerdal SLE Workshop. Auckland.

Scholarly editions/literary translations

  • Erlam, G. D. (2013). Clinical Simulation in Nursing: A literature review and guidelines for practice. AKO Aotearoa. Retrieved from https://akoaotearoa.ac.nz/


  • Erlam, G. (2015). Improving pedagogical practices with undergraduate nursing students in high-fidelity simulation. (Auckland University of Technology, Auckland). Retrieved from http://222dc6d129f5be8102ca2d7e000f71ad/

  • Erlam, G. D. (2014). Maximising simulation pedagogy for undergraduate millennial healthcare students. (New Zealand, Auckland).

  • Erlam, G. D. (2009). Reflection in online and off-line environments. (Massey, Palmerston North).

  • Erlam, G. (2008). Reflection online or offline:  Does learning environment influence thinking levels?.

Other outputs

  • Erlam, G. D. (2014). How to coach "Oscar" performances out of Millennial undergraduate nursing students (Poster presented at the 2014 AUT Postgraduate symposium). The International Nursing Association for Clinical Simulation and Learning. Retrieved from https://www.inacsl.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3490

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