Nursing Student Perceptions of Knowledge Application in Service-Learning: A Heuristic Phenomenological Study

Nursing Student Perceptions of Knowledge Application in Service-Learning: A Heuristic Phenomenological Study

Author: 
Sherry Arvidson
Program of study: 
Ed.D./CI
Abstract: 
Service-learning is the new paradigm shift shaping nursing education. Developing cultural competence and critical thinking are essential attributes for student learning. Providing students with learning opportunities that build on knowledge development and practical application is important in the nursing profession. The purpose of this heuristic phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences and perceptions among 13 first year nursing students and to gain a personal understanding of how students develop skills essential to the nursing profession. The experiential learning theory, self-efficacy theory, and constructivist learning theory served as the framework for the study. The lack of critical thinking among beginning practitioners has resulted in the need to ensure cultural competency in the nursing profession. Interviews, observations, and reflective writing served as the source for data collection. Using a heuristic approach for data analysis has led to the formulation of four essential themes that encompass the context of service-learning: (a) experiential naivety, (b) systems misalignment, (c) personal exhilaration, and (d) transformation of learning. The study findings are significant to educational organizations, academic institutions, community agencies, leaders, and educators in promoting an environment conducive to knowledge construction and application to practice. The identification of effective instructional strategies to support learning is crucial for students and beneficial for educators with the aim of instilling critical thinking and developing culturally competent learners.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this academic accomplishment to my family, friends, and nursing community; and especially my husband, Kris, and daughter, Kaitlyn, who watched me become the person I am today. To my parents who taught me the importance of education, you are my heroes and I cannot thank you enough. Thank you all for the years of support and guidance as I endured the quest for professional development and lifelong learning. To my nursing colleagues for supporting me through the challenges of searching, writing, and revising my work, you have provided me with the encouragement to never give up. To my nursing students who were the participants of my study, I could not have completed this journey without you. I hope that one day you will embrace the efforts and commitment to lifelong learning opportunities and provide undivided support to those in need.
Acknowledgements: 
The contribution of expertise, knowledge, and skill is sincerely appreciated. This doctoral project was not completed in isolation. Special mention needs to be given to the following persons: Dr. Brent Muirhead, my mentor who has guided me in the literature review and throughout the research project; and my committee members, Drs. Ron Heuss and Elizabeth Johnston for their ongoing support, words of advice, and knowledge with the doctoral process. I would like to acknowledge members of University of Phoenix and University of Regina for the collaboration of making the research project a success. Your support for learning has been instrumental and has helped me achieve the highest level of education possible. Finally, I would like to acknowledge my entire family, nursing colleagues, and close friends for the supportive roles they played to alleviate some of the stress associated with the doctoral journey. I am sincerely appreciative of all the support, encouragement, guidance, and words of wisdom I received from everyone. All of you have played a role in the successful achievement of my long awaited doctoral degree.