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|Title: ||Creating connections: an investigation into the first year experience of undergraduate nursing students.|
|Authors: ||Taylor, Ruth Fiona|
|Supervisors: ||Lines, David|
|Keywords: ||First year|
|Issue Date: ||Mar-2009|
|Publisher: ||The Robert Gordon University|
|Citation: ||TAYLOR, R., 2005. Creating a connection: tackling student attrition through curriculum development. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 29 (4), pp. 367-374.|
TAYLOR, R., 2004. Practice nurses' experiences of undertaking a distance learning degree. Primary Health Care Journal, 13 (9), pp. 35-39
|Abstract: ||OVERVIEW OF THE THESIS
The aim of the research is to explore the first year experiences of two
groups of undergraduate student nurses. The research takes a holistic
approach to the investigation of the first year experience. In part, a
curriculum change is used as a way to find out about the first year
experience, with the research looking at how the introduction of enquirybased
learning (EBL) into a curriculum impacted on the first year. The
curriculum change is described in detail in chapter 1. The objectives of the
thesis were to:
1. Examine the first year experience of nursing students.
2. Describe the curriculum change, the rationale for the change and the
context within which this occurred.
3. Compare the demographic profiles of two groups of students one
following a ‘traditional’ curriculum and the other using ‘EBL’; to
compare students who chose to leave the courses with those who
successfully completed first year.
4. Compare experiences with expectations of first year between nursing
students undertaking a ‘traditional’ and an ‘EBL’ curriculum.
5. Propose strategies to enhance the student experience and rates of
retention in first year undergraduate nursing students.
The context for the research is described in chapter 1 – the literature
review. This chapter explores the literature on the first year experience
from both national and international perspectives. Inevitably, it reviews
issues relating to student retention, which is the focus for much of the first
year experience literature. The literature review argues that the
contemporary context of nursing education requires nurse educators to
consider the whole first year student experience when developing curricula
that are fit for purpose. While the content of a course is important, the
approaches to teaching need to facilitate learning within a diverse student
population and need to prepare students to continue to learn in an
increasingly dynamic healthcare environment. The chapter goes on to
argue that the issues that impact on the students’ first year experiences
(e.g. relationships with peers and with academic staff, external domestic
and personal circumstances) can be mitigated through curriculum
development and other means (such as the availability and effectiveness of
student support). The context of the particular nursing course along with
the curriculum change and the rationale for the change are described.
It can be argued that the retention literature takes a deficit approach to the
improvement of the first year experience. Such an approach can be viewed
as one that emphasises the factors that cause people to leave (or puts
them ‘at risk’), and attempts to address these. On the other hand, a
positive approach to the improvement of the first year is one in which
measures and interventions aim to enhance the overall experience for all
students, not just those who are seen as ‘at risk’. That said, the policy
drivers for improving retention cannot be ignored and are discussed within
the context of HE and nursing education. Finally, it is contended that the
first year experience has not been widely explored within nursing literature
and merits attention for a number of reasons, including the policy context
and the need to determine whether student nurses have differing needs
from students within other specialities.
In chapter 2 the research methodology and research methods are
described. An overview of case study research is provided and the
approach taken within this thesis is described, along with a rationale for its
use. The philosophical perspective is discussed with particular emphasis on
the relationships between the methodology and the methods used to
investigate the first year experience of students. It is argued that case
study research is an appropriate methodology to investigate a complex
area and provides an opportunity to utilise a number of methods so as to
get to a ‘thick’ description of the phenomenon (the first year experience).
All students in the two groups under investigation were asked to complete
an expectations questionnaire, and an experiences questionnaire. Everyone
who chose to leave the courses was asked to undertake an in-depth
focused interview, although not all agreed. A sample of students who
successfully completed first year was also asked to undertake an in-depth
focused interview. Finally, a sample of students was asked to complete a
diary for the duration of the first year. The use of multiple methods is
fitting, given the case study approach and the aim to create a ‘thick’
description, and an in-depth understanding of the first year experience. The
use of the same research methods across the different groups of students
allows for some comparisons to be made between the ‘traditional’ and ‘EBL’
curriculum students, and between leavers and stayers. The chapter also
describes the approaches to data analysis.
Chapter 3 presents the findings from the two questionnaires. Relevant
demographic variables are reported, and the quality of the educational
experience is measured in relation to the ways in which experiences meet
expectations. This chapter shows that the two groups (‘traditional’ and
‘EBL’) are similar in terms of demographic variables. It also shows that the
participants appeared to expect a ‘connected’ curriculum experience, but
that the experience did not always match expectations.
In chapter 4 the findings from the interviews and diaries are presented.
Four themes are identified, with a number of categories in each. The
themes (and categories) are: relationships with people (broadening
horizons, knowing self and others, being supported and valued); the
classroom experience (feeling inspired, becoming empowered, engaging
with the learning experience); the practice experience (feeling inspired,
becoming empowered, engaging with the learning experience); and
professional education (motivation, preparedness, making adjustments).
The chapter demonstrates the differences and similarities between the
groups of students, before introducing the links to the quantitative findings,
and to relevant research findings from the literature.
Chapter 5 – the Discussion - brings together the findings from the
qualitative and quantitative data as the case study. A conceptual
framework is presented as a way in which the findings can be framed and
through which future research can be organised. The assertion is made that
the better the relationships, and the closer that experiences meet
expectations, the more likely it is that the student will have a ‘good’
experience and therefore be successful.
The first year is seen as the foundation for future experiences on a course.
While there are some areas that are particularly relevant to nursing
students, it seems that the first year experience of student nurses is similar
to that seen in other disciplines. Similar issues are identified within the
thesis as within the wider literature, although nursing students’ issues may
manifest themselves in slightly different ways (e.g. issues with practice
In chapter 6, a number of conclusions are drawn that may enable future
curriculum development to take a more holistic view of the student
experience. Recommendations for practice are made and a focus for future
systematic research is proposed. It is asserted that the conceptual
framework that has been developed from the findings has allowed for a
contribution to be made to the theoretical debate that relates to enhancing
the first year experience and, in particular, to propose policy changes
within the HE sector that may improve retention rates.
This opening section has provided the reader with the context from which
the ideas and focus for the thesis have developed, and has provided an
overview of the aim and objectives of the research. It provided signposts
for the full thesis and its component parts. Chapter 1 – the literature review
– aims to describe the context within which the research is situated.|
|Appears in Collections:||Theses (Nursing & Midwifery)|
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