A Qualitative Analysis of Minority Students' Educational Experiences

Monday, 30 October 2017

Shanell D. Hill, BSN
Linda Eileen Wolf, PhD, MSN, BSN
School of Nursing, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH, USA

Introduction and Background

Although there is current research regarding the barriers and successes of minority nursing students, not many focus solely on the African American nursing student. They may face challenges that are unique from those of other minority groups. This thesis proposes a further exploration of the barriers of African American students and the strategies that improve success as the first step in creating an environment for success.

Research Design and Procedure

Research Question:

  • What are experiences of the African American nursing student in achieving success in their initial professional nursing education?

Method and Theoretical Background:

  •  The research question directs the researcher to a qualitative, phenomenological research method as it is an examination of the lived experience of a particular population. The theoretical bases would be Vygotsky’s Social Development Theory (Vygotsky, 1985) and Colaizzi’s qualitative data analysis (Sanders, 2003).

Literature Review:

  • Despite recent attempts to increase the diversity of nurses, minority nurses remain underrepresented. This may be due in part to failure to progress in nursing programs as well as low admission rates. Barriers to admission have been found to be related to poor preparation for college level work, lack of financial resources to pay for college education and lack of interest in the nursing major (AACN, 2013). After admission to university, barriers to progression have been identified: feelings of social isolation and a lack of peer bonds, stress and anxiety, financial concerns and a dearth of role models Murray, 2015). This study may confirm these barriers, and may uncover barriers not previously documented.


  • Undergraduate African American nursing students at all levels of progression enrolled at a large Midwestern university would be recruited to participate in individual interviews discussing their experience of barriers and challenges in their nursing education experience. Final sample size would be determined as data saturation emerges, but would be likely at 10-12 interviews or earlier. The sample pool is believe to be adequate to obtain this estimated number as African Americans comprise approximately 15% of the total undergraduate population of over 600 students. Participants would be recruited through posters in the classroom areas and through announcements sent to the Minority Association of Nursing Students.

Research Procedure:

  • Volunteers for the study will be interviewed on campus at a time convenient for them using a script of questions designed to elicit stories of their experiences through application, admission and participation in their nursing program.

Data analysis:

  • Data will be collected after final IRB approval in Spring 2017 .The narratives will undergo content analysis to uncover themes that describe these experiences. Colaizzi’s model will guide this exploration and the synthesis of themes, and interview transcripts will be reviewed by the participants prior to a thematic search. Data analysis and interviews will occur concurrently until data saturation is found.

Evaluation and Outcomes:

  • The thesis developed will provide evidence that the student meets requirements for graduation and may advance nursing knowledge if new themes emerge that have not been documented in the previously published literature on this topic. It will, at minimum, provide an opening for collegial discussion of the topic with students and faculty and possibly point to improvements that could be enacted to support African American nursing students.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing. (2013). 2012-2013 Enrollments and graduations in baccalaureate and graduate programs in nursing. Retrieved from : www.aacn.nche.edu

Murray, T.A. (2015). Factors that promote and impede the academic success of African American students in pre-licensure nursing education: An integrative review. Journal of Nursing Education Sep Supplement:S74-81.(1p)

Sanders, C. (2003). Application of Colaizzi’a method: Interpretation of an auditable decision trail by a novice researcher. Contemporary Nurse: 14(3), 292-302

Vygotsky, L. V. (1985). Cultural, Communication and Cognitive: Vygosky’s Perspectives. Cambridge University