*Interaction in online nursing education classrooms
Susan Marie Ide White, Drake University, United States
Drake University . Awarded
Problem. A shortage of nurses and nurse educators currently exists. Online nursing education has been proposed as a convenient, accessible alternative to traditional classrooms for those seeking degrees in nursing. However, there is concern that online courses do not provide the degree of interaction desirable for such programs. Little quantifiable evidence exists regarding students' perceptions of the amount of interaction (overall, instructor-to-class, and learner-to-learner) that occurs in online classrooms.
Procedures. A cross-sectional research design was used to elicit responses, via the Internet, from nursing students at the University of Phoenix Online. Perceptions of online nursing students pursuing bachelor of nursing and master of nursing degrees were investigated using the Sherry, Fulford, and Zhang (1998) interaction instrument. One hundred and sixty one (of 285) students responded to the survey for a response rate of 56.49%. Data were analyzed using means and standard deviations. Some tests of statistical significance were carried out using the Kruskal-Wallis nonparametric one-way analysis of variance. Also, factor analysis and item analysis procedures were performed on the interaction survey instrument.
Findings. Interaction is occurring in both bachelor and masters nursing classrooms across the curriculum. Students over age 50 perceived significantly higher amounts of overall interaction. Students living 31–60 miles from another educational institution offering a similar program experienced significantly higher instructor-to-class interaction. The survey was found to be adequate, that is capable of measuring interaction in this online setting.
Conclusions. The results of this study have the potential to diminish the fears of skeptics who believe interaction is not occurring in online classrooms. Highly motivated and self-directed degree seeking students who desire or need the accessibility, flexibility, and convenience of online education, may find online education a desirable and satisfying alternative. Online education has the potential to impact the nursing shortage by making advanced nursing degrees more available to those who desire to teach and practice in the field of nursing.
Recommendations. Replication in other online settings, as well as longitudinal studies, would add depth to the understanding of online classroom interaction and support to these findings.
White, S.M.I. *Interaction in online nursing education classrooms. Ph.D. thesis, Drake University.
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