Talkin' Bout My Generation: Divergence of Academic Atmosphere Evaluations in Nursing Student and Faculty Cohorts

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Kate Rocklein Kemplin, DNP, MSN, BNSc, RN
Emery Lee Dunn
Emily Faith Benoit
Caitlin Bosarge
Laura Barry Williams
Michael Semore, BS
School of Nursing, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Chattanooga, TN, USA

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to ameliorate a large gap in the body of knowledge by quantifying perceived intergenerational differences between nursing students and faculty in comparative analysis of their measured perceptions of the academic nursing environment and related subscale constructs. The current global nursing shortage is due in large part to the lack of faculty available to teach nursing students (Flinkman, Isopahkala-Bouret, & Salanterä, 2013; Twigg & McCullough, 2014). Within schools of nursing (SON), the issue is further complicated by disparate expectations and perceptions between nursing faculty and students – often of extensively dissimilar generations. In this innovative study, we built on previous research (Rocklein, 2014; Payne, 2013; Payne & Glaspie, 2014) by capturing and quantifying - for the first known time - perceived faculty-student disconnects of the academic atmosphere within a large American doctoral-degree-granting school of nursing (SON). Despite exhaustive reviews of extant literature, we did not find evidence germane to divisions specifically between nursing faculty and students.

Methods:  After obtaining institutional review board (IRB) approval, the Dundee Ready Educational Environment Measure (DREEM) - a psychometrically superb instrument (de Oliveira Filho, Vieira, & Schonhorst, 2005; Miles, Swift, & Leinster, 2012; O’Brian, Chan, & Cho, 2008; Rocklein, 2014; Roff, 2005; Zawawi & Elzubeir, 2012) - was administered to nursing faculty and student groups with subscale constructs measuring perceptions of learning, professors, the scholastic self, pedagogical atmosphere, and social elements. The DREEM instrument has been used worldwide in medical and clinical educational research to quantify effects of various compositional constructs of the educational environment such as curriculum, teaching, and student perceptions.

Results:  Multivariate analyses found statistically significant differences (p < .05; .01; .005; .0005) between student and faculty perceptions and independence of observations within the instrument and all subscale analyses, with strong correlations (r = .57 - .68) within many participant responses and generational delineation. Though both groups rated the educational environment favorably, nursing faculty overall had more positive perceptions of the educational environment and their performance than students. Subscale analysis was most fruitful in determining the majority of group differences.

Conclusion:  Distal implications from this study are ultimately improvement of nursing faculty knowledge of their effects on students and thereby enhanced communication, expectations, and retention. This rigorous investigation of the nursing educational environment specific to the dichotomy inherent between faculty and students is essential for understanding intergenerational differences and those effects in schools of nursing. By disseminating this study to an international audience, replication within more heterogeneous groups is possible, as is longitudinal investigation. As such, we recommend future research is directed to formally replicate this study with larger, divergent samples within diverse nursing programs to generate additional evidence and initiate changes based on reliable data and precise analyses. Additionally, this study is generalizable to the greater international nursing workforce, as intergenerational differences affect the entire profession.