Nurse Educators Who Teach Online: A Conceptual Study

Tuesday, 13 July 2010: 3:45 PM

Jennie Chang De Gagne, PhD, MSN, MS, RN-BC
Department of Nursing, North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC

Learning Objective 1: list the key themes derived from the multi-method qualitative study, Online Teaching Theory to Practice.

Learning Objective 2: describe how the research findings will be applied to the practice of nurse educators who teach online.

Purpose: This is a conceptual study that uses epistemic concepts from Dr. De Gagne’s book entitled Online Teaching Theory to Practice: A Multi-Method Qualitative Study. The objective of this presentation is to describe how her research findings add to the body of knowledge in nursing education. Describing how the research findings are applied to the practice of nurse educators who teach online, the presenter discusses their role and need for specialized preparation.  

Methods: Dr. De Gagne’s original study integrated a hermeneutic phenomenological approach into a qualitative meta-synthesis (QMS) study. In the QMS method, she located 9 original qualitative studies involving 203 participants from geographically diverse schools. Through a hermeneutic phenomenological design, she interviewed a total of 11 educators. Various qualitative designs were used in the 9 studies, the most frequently used qualitative design being a descriptive study (n=6). Most of the 11 interviewees were from various geographic locations, and their main teaching field was also diverse. The data were clarified through questioning, and another coder reviewed the accuracy of the transcription and its interpretation.

Results: Through the QMS approach, the author identified four key themes: (a) work intensity, (b) role changes, (c) teaching strategies, and (d) professional development. Five key themes also arose from the hermeneutic phenomenological study: (a) online teaching offers flexibility and convenience, (b) online teaching is time consuming and labor intensive, (c) strong communication skills are essential, (d) much of online teaching is learner-centered, and (e) online teaching requires continuing education and training.

Conclusion: The findings of the multi-method qualitative study are relevant to the practice of nurse educators, as the importance of a learner-centered environment has been emphasized in nursing education. The findings show that andragogy, communication, and caring are the most important aspects in online teaching, which is well documented in the literature of nursing education.