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Student’s perceptions of clinical experiences Pinkham, Judith Mary

Abstract

Student's feelings, ideas and understandings of their experiences when learning to nurse have received very little attention as indicated by the nursing literature. The purpose of this study was to develop a tool which would gather data of the student's perceptions of her clinical learning experiences. The type of tool selected for development was a questionnaire. The questions were derived from three specific areas: past learning experiences, expectations of the teacher and the individual's ideas of her own learning needs in the clinical setting. A sample of sixty-four student nurses from three basic nursing education programs were selected. These students, midway through their programs, had all had clinical learning experiences. The data were collected by the researcher who administered the questionnaire. All students who were asked to volunteer did so, all questions were completed by each group of students. The data results were compiled noting individual responses as well as similarities and differences between schools. No significant differences were noted in the responses between the three different nursing programs. A similarity of responses was noted for the majority of questions across the three schools. The students' choice of responses supports many of the findings revealed in the literature review. A specific preference for a small class size and the lecture-discussion method of instruction was evident. Students expressed a positive feeling toward clinical evaluation, but indicated that receiving a clinical evaluation from a teacher caused them a high degree of stress. Fifty-four per cent of the students supported past findings which suggest that students believe they most often receive feedback from the teacher when they have performed unsatisfactorily. The majority of students believed that teachers did perceive themselves as counselors. One-third of the students indicated they thought teachers avoided giving direct negative criticism. Another one-third believed this might happen but had not personally experienced it. Individual responses to the questions indicated a wide variety of perceptions related to clinical learning experiences. Although the tool may give an indication of trends in student's ideas and feelings, it is primarily designed to be used with individual students. Knowledge of the individual's perceptions may give the teacher insight into the meaning of events to the learner. Students in all three schools gave positive support for the collection and use of these data in attempting to improve individual teaching/learning experiences in the clinical area.

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