SOS...”I Need Help” Seminar of Success for Struggling Limited English Proficiency (LEP) Online Nursing Students

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Melissa D. Myers, MSN, BSN, RN, CNE, CPN
RN-BSN option, Chamberlain College of Nursing, Downers Grove, IL, USA
Virginia L. Hall, DNP, MSN/Ed, BSN, RN, CNE
Chamberlain College of Nursing, Devry Education Group, Downers Grove, IL, USA


  • Describe three important considerations of the online learning environment related to limited English proficiency students.

  • Summarize how understanding of the specific needs for limited English proficiency online nursing students can empower educators in leading students to success in the online environment.

  • Recognize the impact that faculty mentors and specific resources for limited English proficiency students can have on improved graduation and retention rates.


    Student demographics and cultural characteristics reach across the globe, thanks to the advances of technology. The number of non-native English speakers in nursing programs is growing as more nursing programs adopt an international focus. Chamberlain College of Nursing serves a culturally diverse student population in its three major online nursing programs, RN-BSN completion, MSN programs and DNP programs. One of the major barriers of success is Limited English proficiency (LEP). In our initial study, we found most students feel that they can be successful in the online environment, however would like to have a mentor. The second phase of our study focused on academic integrity in the online environment finding that academic integrity is a concern with LEP students.  In order to address the concerns of the study findings and literature reviews, a Seminar of Success (SOS) online module has been created to address the specific needs of LEP online nursing students.


    Literature validates the need to take action on reducing attrition rates and recruiting more multicultural nurses. It is believed that limited English speaking students will be more successful if the educational environment is designed and aimed to assist the specific needs of these students. Responses to a survey administered to students at Chamberlain College of Nursing believed they would be more successful in the online environment with assistance of mentors. In one 8-week session of 23 identified suspected plagiarism cases, we found that 42% percent (or 9 of 21) of academic integrity concerns, involved LEP students. Although the majority of the cases involved non LEP students, it was also concluded that only 28 percent of these events were used as teaching moments where the student needed more education and coaching.


    A Seminar of Success (SOS) course has been created for all online RN to BSN students. Within this course are several modules including scholarly writing, basic computer literacy, stress and time management, student resources, and LEP resources. The LEP module includes resources such as tutor sources, plagiarism information, help with grammar, outside resources, and the option for a mentor. Over the course of several months faculty mentors have been recruited from across campuses. Many of the mentors are not native English speakers so they come with a rich history including first-hand experience. LEP students are able to work with a mentor short term or long-term.


    It is believed that non-native English speaking students will be more successful if an educational environment is designed and aimed to assist the specific needs of these students. As online programs continue to grow, it is essential schools are equipped with resources to aid in LEP student success. In particular, a faculty-student mentoring program for the online students incorporated into the curriculum will provide an effective learner experience. It is anticipated that mentoring programs will assist these students to successfully complete their baccalaureate degrees in nursing..

    Mentoring offers strategies to break barriers of learning and success in nursing academics (Wilson, Andrews & Leners, 2006). Benefits of mentorship include a commitment to learning, increased motivation to learn and critical thinking skills. Mentors and mentees should be matched by similar ethnicity (Escallier & Fullerton, 2009). Relational mentoring prescribes to the basics of mentoring but adds much more in a reflective mentor-mentee relationship that empowers, inspires and guides in the process of a caring relationship (Wilson, Andrews & Leners, 2006). With the inclusion of mentoring, the LEP SOS module will assist students in a variety of ways.


  • Escallier, L., & Fullerton, J. (2009). Process and outcomes evaluation of retention strategies within a nursing workforce diversity project. Journal of Nursing Education, 48(9), 488-494. doi: 10.3928/01484834-20090610-02


  • Wilson, V., Andrews, M., & Leners, D. (2006) Mentoring as a strategy for retaining racial and ethnically diverse students in nursing programs. Journal of Multicultural Nursing & Health (JMCNH), 12(3), 17-23.