Putting the pieces together: teaching undergraduate research from a theoretical perspective


Marjorie C. Dobratz,
School of Nursing,
University of Washington,
1900 Commerce Street,
Box 358421,
WA 98402-3100,
E-mail: mdobratz@u.washington.edu


Problem/purpose. Baccalaureate graduates are expected to utilize research across a wide variety of practice settings. While the literature reports a variety of teaching approaches, few studies examine baccalaureate students' comprehension of research content. Teaching techniques that focus on a conceptual or theoretical approach may foster research comprehension. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to evaluate teaching/learning outcomes of an undergraduate nursing research course designed from a conceptual or theoretical approach.

Procedure/findings. Two classes of senior baccalaureate nursing students (n  = 47) at a private institution, whose curriculum was based on the Roy adaptation model, were surveyed in 1990 and 1991 at the end of their undergraduate research course. The survey tool consisted of seven three-point Likert scale questions, four open-ended questions, and one unstructured comment. Findings showed that 72% strongly agreed that they would continue to read nursing articles in their practice field, 57% disagreed that they were intimidated by research language, and 55% agreed that they trusted their ability to use and utilize nursing research in practice. The most helpful learning activity was the research critique (34%) followed by group work (28%). The support of the teacher and Instructor's use of own research examples was also seen as most helpful (36%), while abstract cards (8%) were least helpful. Nonetheless, 23% requested more group activities, 13% wanted more class examples, and 11% asked for more time to comprehend definitions.

Implications. Students who approached research from the perspective of a nursing conceptual framework indicated that they put the pieces of the research puzzle together by working in groups, being supported by the Instructor, and learning from a variety of teaching methods.