Integrating a Diverse Group of Students Into the Affinity Research Group Model

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Abigail Matos-Pagan, DNP, MS, ANP
Department of Nursing, University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez, Mayaguez,, PR, Puerto Rico

Integrating nursing students in diverse research teams might be challenging if they lack the skills to search databases, communicate or have a special interest in a research topic. The Affinity Research Group Model (ARG) was developed at the University of Texas, El Paso through an NSF and US Department of Energy funding (Gates, et. al., 2008). The purpose of this model is to create and maintain an effective research team. Members of the team are fully engaged in the progress of the project and their skills are developed through activities, cooperative learning and leadership responsibilities. An ARG-Nursing was created to increase skills and knowledge of nursing students in research projects activities. The diversity included a student from marketing, engineering, a student with little or no exposure to research and a professional registered nurse. An ethnographic approach was used to measure the outcomes and determine what effect an engineering model would contribute to a diverse group of students from different backgrounds, skills and academic level. Meetings were established and group responsibility was assigned to each student. Research activities included, certification on NIH participant protection, database search skills, and development of IRB application. Pre and post briefings were used on each meeting, and a questionnaire was given at the end of the program to determine satisfaction, project completion, leadership, communication and cooperative skills. Results indicated that the diversity of students contributed to the satisfaction (N=4, 100%). Students developed friendship, trust and interest in community projects. Leadership and communication skills were improved and demonstrated at each activity and meeting. A research project was completed in 6 months, three community projects, participation on an annual scientific conference, abstract submission for poster presentation and one draft for a professional journal is underway. The ARG Model gave students a sense of belonging, cohesiveness and exhibited pride when calling them an Affinity Research Group.