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Participation by nurses in independent and dependent continuing learning activities Clark, Kathleen M.

Abstract

The purposes of this study were to describe and analyze the participation of nurses in continuing learning activities, their reasons for engaging in continuous learning, their attitudes toward continuing nursing education, and their socio-economic characteristics. The study was designed to investigate not only nurses' involvement in conventional forms of planned systematic educational programs such as courses, workshops, and conferences (dependent learning activities), but also their active participation in individual, self-directed learning situations such as reading, and learning packages (independent learning activities). A questionnaire was administered in group sessions and by mail to 220 randomly selected female registered nurses who were employed full or part-time by five general hospitals in the Greater Vancouver area of the province of British Columbia. The hospitals were of medium size (300 - 700 beds) and each had a director or coordinator of inservice education. Each of the respondents participated in at least one of the continuing learning activities accessible to nurses during the year, September 1, 1972 to September 30, 1973, but on the average, the group participation rate was less than half the total possible score. Nonetheless, it was established that the respondents engaged in significantly more independent than dependent learning activities. A factor analysis of S.B. Sheffield's Learning Orientation Index determined that this particular group of nurses did possess the three basic learning orientations described by C. O. Houle but that their reasons for participating in continuous learning could be more precisely defined as being learning, occupational, professional, societal, sociability, interactive, and relief from boredom and frustration-oriented. In addition, the respondents were found to have a favourable attitude to continuing nursing education which related significantly to their participation scores. Other factors related to the nurses' participation in continuing learning activities included the psychological variables - Learning, Sociability, Professional, and Interactive Orientation, as well as the following socio-economic characteristics: number of preschool children, university educational experience, position, employment status, and length of current employment. As a result of multiple regression analyses, three of the learning orientations and the attitude of nurses toward continuing nursing education were found to be better predictors of the respondents participation scores than were certain socio-economic factors. The favourability of nurses' attitudes toward continuing nursing education emerged as the most efficient single predictor.

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