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Addressing obstacles to success: Increasing engagement with science


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The overall aim of the research was to address the issue of science as a “problem” for students in undergraduate nursing and midwifery programmes at Waikato Intitute of Technology (Wintec). In previous Wintec research students reported science as being difficult and time-consuming, and
their lower achievement results reflected the ‘problem’. The literature which supports the research draws from both science and nursing education. It explores practice-to-theory and theory-to-practice links, highlighting the largely tacit nature of these links (Chin et al, 2004). We wanted to make the links between science theory and clinical practice more explicit, in the hope that this
would increase student understanding of and engagement with science.

The research comprised two phases. Phase One (2006) sought to answer the question – “what aspects of science do newly graduated midwives and nurses really need to know in order to practise competently?” through:
Exploring perspectives of science education in applied health programmes in a review of current literature

Exploring what Science midwives and nurses actually used in practice through the collection of information through focus groups with midwifery and nurse educators, and new graduate (1) midwives and nurses in practice.
Phase Two (2007) sought to answer the question – “how can science be taught more effectively to help students make more meaningful theory/practice links?” by:
Designing, delivering and evaluating the effectiveness of a pilot intervention in the Science modules based on the ‘essential’ science knowledge and skills identified in Phase One, which matched aspects of the current curriculum.
The Pilot interventions focused on implementing and evaluating three prioritised content areas: Cardio-vascular system, Renal system and Breastfeeding / Lactation. Different teaching strategies were implemented to provide enhanced contextualisation of the science components.
These included content reduction, the inclusion of narrative stories, and simplified teaching resources. The interventions were evaluated through several data collection methods: Small Group Instructional Diagnosis (SGIDs), Tickets out of Class, focus group interviews and tutor peer reviews. There was minimal impact on student achievement outcomes, however, student satisfaction data was favourable.

Overall analysis of the data suggested students had increased engagement with science. An unexpected outcome of the research was an emergent community of practice in our
interdisciplinary research team which led to developments extending beyond the parameters of the project.

Funded by the Teaching Learning Research Initiative Fund.

1. ‘New graduate’ for the purposes of this project is being used as an encompassing term to
describe the working practices of recently graduated midwives and nurses working in hospitals,
and midwives working as Lead Maternity Carers.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Science education, applied health programmes, pilot intervention, evaluation, student engagement
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB2300 Higher Education
Divisions: Corporate > Research Office
Schools > Centre for Health & Social Practice
Schools > School of Education
Depositing User: Jane Stewart
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2009 20:27
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2023 02:16

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