The Trials and Tribulations of Pedagogical Research

Tuesday, 13 July 2010: 4:25 PM

Barbara J. Patterson, PhD, RN
School of Nursing, Widener University, Chester, PA

Building the science of nursing education requires empirical data to support the strategies educators use in the classroom.  Students are demanding excellence in their educational experiences.  Educators know that effective teaching is more than following a standard course outline and transmitting ideas.  There is a desire to find the Holy Grail of teaching, the perfect teaching/learning strategy that engages the student, enhances the desire to learn, and results in an understanding of concepts.  Additionally, these strategies would result in improved quantitative outcomes.  The list is long with different pedagogical methods and technological tools used to enhance learning as educators fulfill a fundamental responsibility in support of pedagogic research. 
In the effort to improve teaching/learning approaches, the classroom has become the research setting.  Unfortunately, the nature of educator and student relationships generates a variety of ethical concerns, as well as potential conflicts of interest.  What are the issues of using the classroom as an experimental laboratory and what are the challenges when conducting research in the classroom?  Some Institutional Review Boards consider students a vulnerable population.  This presentation examines the trials and tribulations of pedagogical research using three studies as exemplars.