Innovative Pedagogical Approaches to Undergraduate Nursing Research: Avoiding the Cursory Critique

Friday, 28 July 2017: 3:30 PM

Jamela M. Martin, PhD
School of Nursing; Center for Global Health, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA, USA

Upon entry into practice, BSN-prepared nurses are expected to contribute towards improvements in nursing practice and patient outcomes, partially through participation in evidence translation. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Essentials of BSN Education states that professional nursing practice is grounded in the translation of evidence into practice. Essential Three: Scholarship for Evidence-based Practice incorporates nine specific outcomes expected of BSN-prepared nurses. Yet, multi-factorial barriers to knowledge translation in practice persist. One of the key factors that facilitates EBP adoption in healthcare centers is a clinician's strong foundation of knowledge and skills, which is often cited as a prominent personal barrier. Much of the recent focus on improvements in knowledge translation have focused on interventions in the workplace. However, EBP courses in nursing education programs are an equally influential piece of the puzzle that must be explored. There is a lack of evidence that our strategies to teach research and evidence based practice concepts adequately prepare our new graduates to meet key stakeholder expectations. Nursing programs often employ lecture-based, content delivery methods to prepare nurses with basic knowledge of the research process with limited focus on application. Mastery of information at lower cognitive levels enables mastery of skills in the higher levels of the taxonomy (Bloom, 2001). Yet bachelor’s prepared nurses are often prepared with only a cursory understanding of research methods (level 1 cognitive process), while still being expected to perform accurate, detailed critiques of the literature (level 4 cognitive process). For the BSN graduate, this direct, yet limited, approach translates into a lack of confidence to participate in evidence translation. Our pedagogical approaches to research and evidence-based practice must more comprehensively focus on how research is planned, conducted, and disseminated before expecting new nurses to accurately critique and implement findings. An alternative and potentially more effective approach to teaching difficult research concepts is constructionism: a prevailing cognitive learning theory that advocates student-centered, discovery learning where students use information they already know to acquire more knowledge. The purpose of this presentation is to discuss the success of a project-focused, evidence-based education strategy that has been implemented into traditional undergraduate and RN-BSN nursing research courses. This strategy engages students in a hands on, experiential learning opportunity that makes nursing research more stimulating, palatable, and attainable; teaches concepts of the research process from a constructionist approach; and prepares new graduate nurses to critically analyze and implement evidence with confidence as well as collaboratively engage in the development of research proposals. Closing the know-do gap may be possible in the future, but current attempts to narrow the gap must include an examination of the role of nursing educators in preparing nurses for knowledge translation in practice.