Graduate Nursing Education: Reforming Perspectives Through the Lens of Transformative Learning

Friday, 3 August 2012: 10:55 AM

Francine M. Parker, EdD, MSN, RN
Nursing, Auburn University, Auburn, AL
Arlene H. Morris, RN, EdD
School of Nursing, Auburn University Montgomery, Montgomery, AL

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to articulate factors that impact knowledge and attitudinal changes in graduate nursing students.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to apply research findings and strategies that may enhance graduate student progression through Mezirow’s stages of perspective transformation.

Purpose: Registered nurses often return to school for an advanced degree to fulfill an academic, personal or professional goal. Through the educational endeavor, these students may experience resocialization of their perspectives related to professional nursing values and roles. The purpose of this presentation is to share research findings describing changes in perspectives which reflected the learning or relearning that occurred in returning students, based on Mezirow’s Perspective Transformation Theory (1978).

Methods: This qualitative, descriptive research, a replication of Cragg and Andrusyszyn’s 2005 study of MSN graduates in Canada, examined changes in the knowledge and attitudes of graduates from MSN programs in one southern state. University Institutional Review Board approval was obtained, followed by email correspondence with eight graduate nursing programs requesting assistance with recruiting participants. Return of a demographic survey via email served as consent to participate. Of the 29 participants who returned the survey, 22 scheduled an interview. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in person or via telephone. A virtual option was initially available through a Wiki site; however, this method was not utilized due to technology issues. Interviews were tape recorded and professionally transcribed.

Results: Data were analyzed using summative content analysis. Findings substantiated the changes in attitudes, knowledge and skills of MSN graduates identified in Cragg and Andrusyszyn’s study. Presenters will share outcomes from the research within the context of Transformative Learning Theory to illustrate Mezirow’s Phases of Perspective Transformation. Themes of general changes included professional growth; increased self-confidence and awakening to the broader role of the nurse in health care delivery systems.

Conclusions: Specific practice changes were identified as higher order skills in cognition, problem solving and critical thinking. Valuing evidence- based practice as a result of the educational process correlate with current global challenges faced by all nurse educators and leaders.