Best and worst classroom learning experiences as perceived by adult undergraduates in baccalaureate nursing programs

Date of Completion

January 1993


Education, Adult and Continuing|Health Sciences, Nursing|Education, Higher




The primary purpose of this study was to identify the best and worst classroom learning experiences as perceived by adult undergraduate students in baccalaureate nursing programs (BSN). A second objective of this study was to determine if differences existed among traditional and adult (adult non-nurses and RN's) students in their perceptions of best and worst classroom learning experiences. The use of effective teaching practices would attract more adults into BSN programs, increasing the number of BSN graduates, and ultimately improving the quality of nursing care to clients. The Nine Principles of Effective Undergraduate Teaching Practices formed the conceptual framework for this study. These principles integrate research on adult and undergraduate education derived primarily from the works of Chickering and Gamson (1987) and other noted researchers in adult and undergraduate teaching (e.g., Brookfield, 1986; Knowles, 1980; McKeachie et al., 1986; Sheckley, 1988; Sherman et al., 1987).^ The sample consisted of 206 undergraduate nursing students in four Connecticut BSN programs. The sample was subdivided into 106 traditional students, 36 adult non-nurses, and RN's. Subjects completed a two-part questionnaire. Participants rated the frequency with which 41 teaching practices, reflecting the nine principles of effective teaching, were used in their best and their worst classroom learning experiences. Subjects also rated four items related to the "quality of the educational experiences" in their best and in their worst classroom experiences. Results showed that all three groups rated the nine principles of effective undergraduate teaching poorly in the worst experiences and highly in the best experiences. Comparison of mean scores for principles describing the best and worst classroom learning experiences showed that significant differences existed between traditional and adult students in their ratings of several principles. Among adult students, significant correlations were found between scores on "quality" items and ratings of several principles. Generally, traditional and adult nursing students had similar perceptions regarding best and worst classroom learning experiences. Identified differences between the traditional and adult groups partially support adult learning literature. Results suggest that adults who lack related life or work experiences in nursing are not necessarily different learners than traditional students. ^