Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

WARMING the Nursing Education Climate for Traditional-Age Learners Who Are MALE

Academic journal article Nursing Education Perspectives

WARMING the Nursing Education Climate for Traditional-Age Learners Who Are MALE

Article excerpt


For nurse educators to facilitate student learning and the achievement of desired cognitive, affective, and psychomotor outcomes, they need to be competent in recognizing the influence of gender, experience, and other factors on teaching and learning. A study was conducted in one academic institution to describe how traditional-age male learners' perceptions of the nursing education climate compare to perceptions of female learners. Interviews were conducted with a sample of four male and four female learners. Additional data from interviews with nurse educators, classroom observations, and a review of textbooks provided breadth and depth to their perceptions. Findings support a nursing education climate that is cooler to traditional-age male learners and warmer to traditional-age female learners. The main cooling factor for men was caused by nurse educators' characteristics and unsupportive behaviors. Additional factors inside and outside the education environment contributed to a cooler climate for the male learners. Based on these findings, strategies for nurse educators to warm the education climate for traditional-age male learners are presented.

Key Words Traditional-Age Male Learners - Education Climate - Nursing Students - Nurse Educators

MEN REPRESENT ONLY 5.8 PERCENT OF THE NURSING WORKFORCE (1). This is a concern, not only with regard to the nursing shortage, but because nursing does not reflect the gender characteristics of the population it serves (2). A further concern is that attrition and failure rates in nursing education are higher for men than for women (3). Although there have been attempts to understand the factors that contribute to attrition and failure and offer strategies to retain male learners (2), only a small, evolving body of research on these concerns has been published (4-7). * Research findings from 1991 to the present on male learners in nursing programs suggest that men experience role strain, feelings of inadequacy, and a fear of gender stereotyping (8-10). Additional findings suggest that male learners may have frustrating and stressful experiences (9,10) that can make them feel isolated and excluded (5). There is also support in the literature for a lack of awareness by nurse educators of the unique needs of male learners (11). * Although men have reported experiencing advantages consistent with male privilege in the classroom setting, they have also reported feeling discriminated against in clinical settings (4), but the findings are inconsistent. Some studies (9,10) have identified the obstetrical setting as stressful for male learners, while others (12) have found that men perceived this setting as providing an overall positive experience. THE CHALLENGES FOR MEN APPEAR TO BE ROLE RELATED. BOUNDARIES OCCUR IN SETTINGS THAT TRADITIONALLY VALUE WOMEN AS PRIMARY CAREGIVERS FOR INTIMATE BODILY FUNCTIONS (13). NURSES, RATHER THAN CLIENTS, APPEAR TO INITIATE THESE PROBLEMS (14).

According to recent findings by O'Lynn (6) and Smith (7), the barriers and challenges that men confront in schools of nursing have changed surprisingly little during the past few decades. Some of these barriers and challenges include lack of mentorship for male learners, failure to include the history of men in nursing in the curriculum, the failure to create a welcoming environment in the clinical setting, and lack of gender neutrality in textbooks (6). Like women, non traditional male learners also report the difficulty of balancing school, family, and work (7).

Research that compares how female and male learners perceive the nursing education climate is needed to evaluate the context, or climate, in which males describe their experiences (15). A study by Serex (16) examined the interaction of gender and academic discipline and the perception of classroom climate. Serex's findings, which examined students in accounting, education, engineering, and nursing, indicate that regardless of gender, learners did not perceive the academic climate to be chilly. …

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