Participatory Action Research: Learning about Work Environments Among Baccalaureate Nursing Faculty

Saturday, 18 March 2017: 3:00 PM

Lisa A. Ruth-Sahd, DEd
Nursing, York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA, USA
Norma H. Beyer, DNP
Department of Nursing, York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA, USA

The article discusses the implementation and results of a participatory action research (PAR) project carried out with baccalaureate nursing faculty from 2013 to 2016 in a private four year college in Northeastern United States. The aim of the project was to identify issues related to work environment according to the guidelines sent forth from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN, 2005) and the National League for Nurses (NLN, 2006). While research has been carried out in clinical practice settings related to work environment and its effects on nurses and patients, there is a paucity of research assessing the entity of work environment in academic settings and it effect on faculty, students and teaching. The participating faculty all had at least one year of teaching full time and were able to identify relevant factors that affect the work environment. Via the study results the researchers noted usage of PAR have led to a deeper and fuller understanding of the factors that shape faculty members’ experiences and performance as a nursing educator. The study validates that academic work environments are influenced by multiple and inter-related factors. These factors include the following: recognizing and respecting each other as faculty; creating spaces to share with one another as faculty, developing and acknowledging teaching capabilities and recognizing how they impact the healthy learning environment in the classroom; utilizing “precious” time, and valuing the efforts of this research. The faculty contend that we must do more to support a healthy work environment by setting high expectations for success, maintaining positive faculty to faculty, faculty to administrator and faculty to student relations, integrating healthy work environment curricula “such as course threads on work life balance,” promoting more creative innovative pedagogies in the classroom, expanding the range of extra-curricular activities for faculty and students, and working more closely with each other to role model for our students and promote positive outcomes in our students.