Taking Care of Nurses – so they can take care of us!
Concurrent Session 6
Providing flexible, high-quality online education to nurses is critical to their development and necessary given the multiple shifts covered by these working professionals. This multi-dimensional study of learning at the University of Rochester School of Nursing utilizes three lenses – COI for online courses, CTML for multimedia development, and program evaluation.
The University of Rochester was founded in 1850 and is a private research university located in Rochester, NY. The University is comprised of seven schools the College of Arts & Sciences, the Hajim School of Engineering; the Eastman School of Music; the School of Medicine and Dentistry; the School of Nursing; the Simon School of Business; and the Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development. While the institution embraces a very high quality residential experience, most of the schools have developed some online learning offerings in recent years.
The first academic unit to develop online courses was the School of Nursing. The notion of creating and providing academic offerings with a flexible schedule was born of necessity. Our healthcare system faces critical shortages of professionals with essential skills needed to expand access, improve wellness, and prevent and treat disease. According to the Institute of Medicine (2011), the nursing profession has the capacity to enable essential changes to meet these complex needs. This depends on education which enables nurses to enter leadership and advanced practice roles. Given that nurses work multiple shifts to meet patient care needs, they require a flexible curriculum enabling them to learn anytime and anywhere.The asynchronous nature of online courses has been an excellent response to this requirement.
During the past two years, a research initiative has been implemented to help the University and the School of Nursing to better understand the student experience and opportunities for improvement of faculty development and support.
The first component of this research plan was a study that included feedback from students in every online or hybrid online course offered by the School of Nursing. There are several hundred enrollments in online courses every semester and each student is surveyed about their experience. The survey is grounded in the Community of Inquiry. The COI is the most referenced theory for describing, explaining and predicting learning in online environments. We examined student perceptions of teaching presence based on their instructor facilitating discourse, demonstrating good instructional design and organization and providing direct instruction. We also investigated social presence to understand whether students had a sense of belonging in the course. And we explored cognitive presence – the extent to which students are able to construct meaning. Students reported on learning outcomes and we assessed and looked for relationships among a number of factors and dimensions.
The second component of this research related to a study evaluating the effective of evidence-based multimedia instruction in nursing. This research was grounded in the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning based on the work of Mayer (2005). The study employed a mixed methods design with a small randomized control trial evaluating transfer learning from traditional vs CTML-based video lectures. The experiment was followed by a series of interviews with qualitative analysis guided by grounded theory. The study revealed no significant difference in transfer learning. Analysis of interview data resulted in four key findings: students were highly distracted, they felt stressed-out and overwhelmed, they made sense of concepts primarily while studying independently, and illustrations helped students visualize physiological processes but were less helpful for other content. These findings suggest that contextual factors need to be considered in combination with teaching methods in order to fully understand multimedia learning in nursing education.
The third component of our research plan was a program evaluation of a specific hybrid-online degree program in the School of Nursing. The evaluation was based on the framework of assessment of course design using Quality Matters and other evidence-based practices in adult learning theory and online teaching and learning. Supplementing the course assessment with student surveys, student course evaluations, and faculty interviews, provided insight into overall program effectiveness, and student preferences, as well as recommendations for program changes, course changes and faculty development opportunities.
This presentation will highlight key findings and share what we learned through this multidimensional research effort. We will discuss plans for improvements, faculty development strategies, and connections to academic leadership.
Institute of Medicine (US). Committee on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Initiative on the Future of Nursing. (2011). The future of nursing: Leading change, advancing health. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.
Mayer, R. E. (Ed.). (2005). The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. Cambridge university press.