A comparison of the achievement levels of physical assessment skills acquired by baccalaureate nursing students in a subject-centered course and in an integrated format

Date of Completion

January 1994


Health Sciences, Education|Health Sciences, Nursing|Education, Curriculum and Instruction




One of the most dynamic changes which occurred in nursing education was the shift from a subject-centered curriculum to an integrated curriculum model. The purpose of this study was to compare the level of achievement of physical assessment (PA) skills of senior baccalaureate nursing students utilizing a subject-centered approach and an integrated curriculum model to teach PA skills. The retention of PA theory by the subjects in the study was also investigated.^ The subjects (N = 87) in the study consisted of senior students enrolled in a baccalaureate nursing program in one Southern New England college. Two groups were established for the comparison. Group A (N = 35) consisted of students who were registered for a comprehensive PA course. Group B (N = 52) was comprised of students who were acquiring PA skills in the integrated curriculum format.^ Data were collected by utilizing a pre-test, a post-test and a PA practicum examination completed by each subject participating in the investigation. Analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to test the two hypotheses. The pre-test was used as the covariate in the exercises. The data revealed that there was not a significant difference between the two groups when achievement of PA skills were compared. The data did indicate, however, that the retention of theoretical concepts was significantly higher for students in the separate course.^ The findings of this study have implications for curriculum planning in nursing education. Additional research is indicated and areas for further research are identified. ^