Exchanging Expertise: Collaborative Teaching Opportunities in Research Courses

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Joyce A. Brill, PhD1
Paulette Dorney, PhD1
Robert T. Brill, PhD2
(1)School of Nursing, Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA, USA
(2)Psychology Department, Moravian College, Bethlehem, PA, USA


Research courses for undergraduate nursing education can present challenges for the professor to bring real world research experiences into the classroom. Generating research experiences within an undergraduate nursing course can be limited by multiple factors, such as constraints of multiple ethical reviews by the college and medical institution and narrow time frames for student time available to complete data collection and analyses. A collaborative effort between a social science research course and nursing research course allowed the professors to incorporate expertise from each discipline. Students from two courses assisted in the design, implementation, and evaluation of a real world research experience. The purpose of this research partnership experience was to evaluate nurses’ perceptions of stress, coping, and intention to return to school. The social science research course (in this case an upper level psychology seminar course on organizational stress that required an empirical project component) laid the theoretical foundation for work stress and coping. The nursing research course added the nursing perspective to these concepts.


In the context of this pedagogical endeavor, methods will refer to the joint efforts of the instructors to create this substantive research opportunity at the undergraduate level for students in both academic majors. Three professors from the same college, one from the social science department and two from the nursing department, developed the idea for joining their respective research courses to evaluate nurses’ stress, coping, and intent / incentive for returning to school. Recognizing that both courses had parallel learning outcomes for developing undergraduates’ competency in research, the collaborative team honed in on hypotheses that would be of mutual interest and relevance for both courses. The social science professor guided the search for appropriate tools for evaluation of stress and coping in nurses. The nursing department professors assisted in the literature review for the significance of the problem and the development of open-ended questions to evaluate nurses’ intent to return to school.


In this case of this pedagogical initiative, the results are the actual parallel research project assignments created for each course. A survey was developed based on literature reviews from both classes. For measures, the instructors decided to use the Nursing Stress Index (NSI), the brief COPE scale, and three open ended questions related to incentives to return to school, barriers to return to school, and factors that assisted returning to school. This provided both quantitative and qualitative sources of data. Students assisted in translating the instrument to an online electronic format and helped to pilot test that it ran smoothly and to estimate how long it would take to complete. The survey was distributed via SurveyMonkey to all currently enrolled Registered Nurses (RNs) in the college’s RN to BSN, Master’s degree in Nursing, and Nurse Practitioner programs. Students from both the nursing and social science course participated in data analyses in their separate respective classes. During each session the social science and one of the nursing instructors was present to discuss the rationale for each analysis as linked to the hypotheses, discuss theoretical connections, and provide multiple discipline-based perspectives on student questions and the overall implications of the data. Quantitative data analyses were facilitated for students in both classes by the social science professor and one nursing professor using SPSS Version 23. Qualitative data analysis was facilitated by the nursing professors with both classes. The students participated using thematic analysis and emergent themes were identified. Nursing students developed presentations based on their independent research focus areas. In addition to sharing and disseminating the development of this pedagogical multidisciplinary collaboration, pending comments from student course evaluations will also be presented.


Students from both courses benefited from this collaboration. Students were able to experience data collection from a sample of nurses. Students also participated in quantitative and qualitative data analyses including interpretation of the results. The joining of these classes allowed the students to evaluate the research process from a nursing and social science perspective in a real world research experience. The joining of these courses also allowed for the use of the expertise from professors experienced in quantitative and qualitative research techniques.