Outcomes of an Evidence-Based Research (EBR) Tool to Teach Online Research and Critical Thinking Skills

Saturday, 26 July 2014: 1:30 PM

JoAnn D. Long, RN, PhD, NEA-BC1
Paula Gannaway, BA, MLS2
Rita Doumit, PhD, MPH, RN3
Cindy Ford, PhD, RN, CNE1
(1)Department of Nursing, Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, TX
(2)Library Department, Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, TX
(3)School of Nursing, Lebanese American University, Byblos, Lebanon


Advances in global technologies have changed how students access evidence-based information. Research suggests nursing students overestimate their ability to accurately acquire online research and lack the critical thinking skills to evaluate the trustworthiness of the scientific literature. In response to this need a research team created an online Evidence-based Research (EBR) tool to enhance student research skills.  The EBR tool is located on a secured university website and is accessible online or by smart phone. The purpose of this project is to report the outcomes of the EBR tool on student research skills and to discuss the use of the data for program and institutional effectiveness metrics.

Methods: We used a quasi-experimental, pre-test post-test mix-method design.  The research questions are 1) Does the use of the online EBR tool increase student self-report of research skills?  2) Does self-reported data triangulate with embedded questions assessing student acquisition of evidence-based research skills?  Data was collected from six cohorts over an 18 month period from 2012-2013 using first semester RN/BSN (n=85) and MSN (n=70) students in a southwestern university.  Pre/post-test data was analyzed by t-test.  Narrative data was analyzed by word count and clustering into recurring themes. 


A statistically significant difference between mean pre and post-test research skills was found in both RN/BSN and MSN students (t = 6.10, p < 0.001; t = 8.23, p < 0.001) moving students from perceived “good” research skills to “very good” after use of the EBR tool.  Descriptive data from two case-based questions embedded within the EBR tool supports 84% of students can correctly apply PICO search terms to online search skills and 76% are able to differentiate the steps needed for critical appraisal of the research literature.


It is imperative that nursing educators find effective ways to teach evidence-based research skills to students using methods relevant to today’s learner.  The data from this study suggests the technology-based EBR tool effectively enhanced student online evidence-based research skills and producing objective data suitable for programmatic evaluation of student research skills usable for programmatic evaluation and institutional assessment.  International testing of the tool is underway.