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Nursing students’ thoughts about online learning in new research

Date 9.07.2020

Online learning provides nursing students with the confidence to ask questions and develop core skills but needs to be balanced with traditional teaching, according to new research from the University of Northampton (UON).

The views of 12 Adult Nursing students in the final year of their degrees were recorded during a series of focus groups in which they were asked about their experience of the various online learning methods used at UON, such as collaborative online classrooms, online activities and use of online workbooks.

They were also asked how their learning was supported by the University and their experiences of accessing online learning and online materials.

The findings reveal that online learning promoted feelings of security and made people more confident about asking questions, compared with traditional learning environments.

Also getting the thumbs up from some of the students is the ‘at your fingertips’, flexible-to-access nature of online learning, that also made it easier to review their work and for them to proceed at their own pace.

However, some of the students reported that they valued their peers’ and lecturers’ presence in a physical classroom and felt face-to-face teaching was beneficial because of the dialogue between them. This helped them build a rapport and develop their communication skills.

Some also felt that disruptions at home, a lack of social interaction and feelings of being isolated could impact their virtual learning.

The results of this research echo those of a separate nursing student cohort, who started their degrees entirely online with UON in April this year.

Clare Bramer, Senior Lecturer in Adult Nursing, conducted the research and said: “Online learning is a key component of how nursing students are educated across the country and something we have spent time developing at UON.

“This research, although only covering a small number of students, gives us a ‘snapshot’ of our students’ opinions about what works, what doesn’t and what we can do to further fine tune the online provision here.

“What came across loudly and clearly was that online learning was beneficial for Adult Nursing students but should run alongside traditional teaching at our Waterside campus. When the current restrictions around the pandemic are eased, we look forward to putting the findings of this research into practice.”

Find out more about Nursing degrees at the University of Northampton.

The research can be read in full here. Please note, it is behind a British Journal of Nursing paywall. Contact The University of Northampton press office for more.