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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The relationship between level of nursing education and intellectual and ethical development Dams, Zoe Ann


Pursuit of university education for nurses has been a controversial and poorly understood ideal. It has been difficult to clearly demonstrate and articulate the benefits of higher education for nurses and nursing. In this research the mission of undergraduate education in general, and the Canadian Nurses Association position paper on baccalaureate education served as the basis of inquiry into aspects of university education for nurses and nursing. From these sources and review of the literature it was ascertained that a primary value of education is seen as helping individuals develop intellectual and ethical maturity which allows them to make judgments and commitments in a relativistic world. This theorectical orientation was operationalized through Perry's theory of intellectual and ethical development (1970). The Measure of Epistemological Reflection (MER), a tool based on this theory, was developed to measure a person's level of intellectual and ethical maturity. In this study the MER was administered to diploma and baccalaureate nursing graduates to determine if this construct could be used to differentiate the effects of the two levels of education. The findings indicated that there was no difference between diploma and baccalaureate groups of nurses on their scores on the MER. There was no correlation between scores on the MER and age or experience. There was, however, a significant difference between a group of nurses who participated in university education in addition to their basic nursing program, and a group who had no other university credit outside of their basic nursing program. These findings, and their implications for nursing practice, education, and research are discussed.

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