Taking Care of Nurses – so they can take care of us!

Concurrent Session 6

Brief Abstract

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. 


Eric E. Fredericksen is the associate vice president of online learning at the University of Rochester and professor in educational leadership at the Warner School of Education. A national leader in online education, Fredericksen provides leadership for the exploration of online learning initiatives across the University. Previously, he was the associate vice provost at the University, where he provided leadership and services that supported the academic and research missions of the University. Prior to the University of Rochester, Fredericksen served as the director of academic technology and media services at Cornell University. As a senior manager in Cornell Information Technologies, he helped craft Cornell's presence and direction in the use of contemporary technologies to support research, outreach, and teaching & learning both in and out of the classroom. Before Cornell, Fredericksen was the assistant provost for advanced learning technology in the Office of the Provost in the State University of New York System Administration, where he provided leadership and direction for all of SUNY's system-wide programs focused on the innovative use of technology to support teaching and learning. This included the nationally-recognized SUNY Learning Network - winner of the EDUCAUSE Award for Systemic Progress in Teaching and Learning and Sloan-C Awards for Excellence in Faculty Development and Excellence in Institution-wide Online Programming. It also included the SUNY Teaching Learning and Technology Program and Project MERLOT, which were designed to complement the classroom with technology-supported instruction. Fredericksen was also a co-principal investigator and administrative officer for three multi-year, multi-million dollar grants on Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN) from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. He was responsible for the fiscal management, strategic planning, policy development, faculty development, marketing & promotion, a technical support center for faculty and students, and operations and technology infrastructure. He managed a distributed statewide staff of IT, administrative, instructional design, and faculty support professionals. Under his leadership, the program grew from two campuses offering eight courses to 119 enrollments to 53 campuses offering 2,500 courses to more than 40,000 enrollments in just seven years. He has also designed, developed, and taught online courses for the Department of Educational Theory and Practice in the Graduate School of Education at the University at Albany for the past 12 years. Fredericksen is active in national efforts, including EDUCAUSE, the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, and the Online Learning Consortium (formerly Sloan-C). He was chair of the Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning and previously served as chair of the Sloan-C Awards Program for Excellence in Online Teaching and Learning. He also served on the advisory board for Enterprise Learning at NYU. In 2012, Fredericksen was elected to the board of directors for the Sloan Consortium and served as the President of the Board of OLC in 2018 and 2019. He was honored as a Sloan-C Fellow in 2013.
Lisa is the Director of Online Learning for the University of Rochester's Institute for Innovative Education. She holds a Doctorate of Education, along with an Advanced Certificate in Online Teaching and Learning. Additionally, she teaches future teachers how to teach online at the University's Warner School of Education.

Extended Abstract

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.