Evaluation of Students' Perceptions Compared With Baccalaureate Program Objectives of a Peer-Tutoring Program
Catherine S. Thomas, DNP, MSN, RN, CNE; Nancy E. Peer
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Purpose: The purpose of this research was to compare and contrast any differences between students’ perception of and actual performance related to program objectives of a pilot peer tutoring program in an undergraduate nursing program. This pilot peer tutoring program was implemented based on both ongoing program assessment and a program needs survey in which students identified the need for additional academic services and resources. This pilot program was implemented to improve student performance on standardized assessments, student self-confidence, and student understanding of nursing content and concepts through the use of newly available resources and peer to peer learning.
Methods: This quantitative research study compared and contrasted students’ perception, as measured by a Likert scale online survey, that focused on student experiences and their satisfaction with various aspects of the tutoring program and resources. Those results were compared with student performance on a standardized assessment that they completed twice during the academic semester (HESI Exit Exam 1 and 2). The peer tutors were selected by faculty, based on their previous performance on both standardized assessments and faculty generated assessments. Their acceptance of the compensated position was voluntary, and they completed an orientation to their role, and were given a job description and program guidelines. The faculty coordinators interacted with the peer tutors frequently, both in person and via email to provide oversight and guidance. The students were referred to the tutoring program, based on their performance on previous standardized assessments and faculty generated assessments, as well as any presence of test anxiety and need for improvement in understanding nursing content and concepts. The students were expected to attend the tutoring program regularly throughout the semester, and their hours and use of resources were tracked.
Results: Students’ perceptions of the peer tutoring program did not match the achievement of program objectives. The students rated their perception of the program as marginally positive. However, their rating of the newly available resources was high. Their perception of the experience may have been influenced by the peer tutoring room, as it was not a dedicated space. While it was located in the same building as the nursing department and lab, as well as one of their nursing classes for the semester, it had limited seating around a small table, the temperature of the room was frequently unpredictable, and the space was occasionally shared with graduate student workers who were completing data entry for another university program. Several times the tutors and students took advantage of seating located in the hallway. Student performance on the standardized assessment increased an overall net of thirty-two percent, which had not been demonstrated by previous senior classes in the program. Limitations for the study included a small sample size, lack of demographic data collection with the survey, the use of a non-voluntary referral process, and the inability to have a control group.
Conclusion: This study contributes to the limited body of evidence on academic focused peer tutoring in nursing education. Students’ perceptions and achievement of program objectives did not match. The various resources available were rated high and the assigned space was not perceived as meeting their needs. The relevance to nursing education is the evaluation of this pilot program as a cost-effective pilot program that addressed and supported the learning needs of diverse learners through the availability of resources and peer tutors. This study may provide guidance and knowledge for nursing faculty and programs that may be considering implementing peer tutoring to support student success.
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