Learning Skills Profiles of Master's Students in Nursing Administration: Assessing the Impact of Problem-Based Learning

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT Attempts to compare graduate student performances before and after introducing new curricula are rare; yet faculties need outcome measures to justify program costs and demonstrate effectiveness. Boyatzis and Kolb's Learning Skills Profile is used to assess the outcomes of a problem-based learning MSN program. Increases were demonstrated among all 12 learning skills; statistically significant increases were found in eight of the personal learning skills and six of the job skill demands. Comparisons are made between scores of students in the MSN program and scores of master's students in business administration.

Key Words Nursing Administration--Master's Program--Problem-Based Learning--Experiential Learning--Master's Program Outcomes

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TODAY'S MARKET-DRIVEN HEALTH CARE DELIVERY SYSTEMS AND EXPECTATIONS FOR CONSOLIDATED NETWORKS IN THE FUTURE HAVE LED TO EFFORTS TO REVISE THE CURRICULA IN GRADUATE-LEVEL NURSING ADMINISTRATION EDUCATION. Nurse managers for today's health care system, and for tomorrow's, need preparation in using critical reasoning, structuring knowledge in clinical practice contexts, collaborating in interdisciplinary teams, using information technology, and participating in continuous quality improvement. Nurse managers must seek broad-based knowledge, have a lifelong commitment to learning, and exhibit ethical behavior. * This article reports on a study that compares student scores on the Learning Skills Profile (LSP) before and after completing four master's-level nursing administration courses taught using problem-based learning (PBL). The goal is to evaluate PBL as an appropriate pedagogy to prepare nurse manage for the uncertainties of future administrative practice.

Understanding Problem-Based Learning PBL is a philosophy and teaching method that structures knowledge in clinical contexts, strengthens motivation to learn, develops clinical reasoning skills, and enhances self-directed and lifelong learning (1). Since 1969, when PBL was introduced in Canada's McMaster University Medical School, various aspects of PBL have been implemented internationally in all areas of the health sciences. It has also been implemented in other academic program areas, including architecture, business, education, and engineering, as well as in elementary education.

A small-group educational method, PBL is characterized by the use of an ill-structured problem as the context for students to learn clinical reasoning skills and acquire specific knowledge. (See Figure 1.) The problem is presented before students have learned basic knowledge, and it is presented in progressive stages to stimulate students to seek additional knowledge. The focus in PBL is on contextually defined knowledge, the collaborative group-centered environment, and the coaching role of faculty.

Figure 1. Example of PBL Case Used in the Nursing
Administration Master's Program

CASE SYNOPSIS You are the manager of a 90-bed adult surgical service at
Community Hospital, a 440-bed acute care nonprofit hospital located in
a Midwestern state. After witnessing a novice nurse near miss/adverse
event situation, you talk with the four team leaders about engaging
the "boomer generation" nurses in mentoring novice nurses to strengthen
a healthy work environment and a culture of safety. How will you and
the four team leaders develop, implement, and evaluate strategy to
build organization capacity for safety improvement activities?

CASE OBJECTIVES

1. Assess hospital work environment to identify facilitators and
barriers to creating a culture of safety.

2. Analyze internal and external social-economic-political forces
enhancing healthy work environments.

3. Specify evidence-based nurse managers' strategies to develop and
retain novice nurses.

4. Contrast nurse manager administration roles with entire surgical
nursing staff, the four surgical team leaders, and the hospital
nursing administration group. …