Nursing Student Outcomes of Distance Education: What is the Evidence?
Repository Posting Date2012-01-11T11:06:53Z
Author DetailsBarbara J. Patterson, PhD, RN; Linda R. Roy RN, MSN; Anne Marie Krouse PhD, RN
(41st Biennial Convention) Distance education has received wide attention in the nursing literature over the past decade as an alternative to the traditional classroom. It seems to offer great potential as a distinctive learning environment. Authors report that distance education offers accessibility, flexibility, and may assist in filling the nursing shortage gap. Fortunately, there exists a plethora of research on distance education and student learning outcomes in nursing; however, there is a need to evaluate and translate this growing body of findings into educational practice. Building a science of nursing education requires that faculty use teaching and learning strategies that achieve the maximum success towards desired learning outcomes. Integrative reviews offer one strategy to contribute to evidence-based teaching practice initiatives. Using a number of databases, a search of available published qualitative and quantitative research on student outcomes of distance education from 1999-2009 was conducted. Astin's Input-Environment-Output (I-E-O) conceptual model provided a framework for this review. The I-E-O model of assessment provides a structural approach to assessment taking into account not only student outcomes, but also student inputs and the educational environment, which may affect those outcomes. Thirty-three studies met the inclusion criteria. Both cognitive and affective student outcomes emerged. The cognitive outcomes were student learning, learning process, and technology proficiency. Affective outcomes included personal and professional growth, satisfaction, and connectedness. Many of the studies reviewed lacked rigor with limitations including researcher-developed instruments, lack of theory, convenience samples, and single site data collection. The findings of this integrative review support the need for clarity of pertinent outcomes and the rigorous evaluation of them across a variety of levels of nursing education and delivery formats if distance education is to remain a viable alternative for nursing.