Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics

Collaborative Qualitative Research as a Learning Tool in Nursing Education

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by June Kaminski, RN MSN PhD(c)
Editor in Chief

June Kaminski CJNI was initiated by June Kaminski in 2006 when she was President-Elect of CNIA. She is currently Curriculum Coordinator of a BSN Advanced Entry nursing program at Kwantlen Polytechnic University; Past President of the Canadian Nurses for Health and the Environment and Editor in Chief of the Online Journal of Nursing Informatics In 2012, June was honored to receive the CASN and Canada Health Infoway’s inaugural Nursing Faculty E-Health Award 2012 in Ottawa Canada. She also won the Distinguished Teaching Award from Kwantlen Polytechnic University in 2016. She offers the Nursing Informatics Learning Centre for nurses.

EDITORIAL

Most BSN nursing programs include a course in nursing research. In the program I teach in, two courses are offered: one in qualitative research and the other in quantitative research. The students who come into this program already have a degree in some other discipline ranging from kinesiology to philosophy. As well, the students have developed their writing, research, and critical thinking skills during their first degree, and are technically ready for graduate school. Thus, faculty who teach in this program look for inventive and challenging ways to keep the students’ interest while teaching the program content. One example of this is the research project done in the fall of 2017, and presented in this edition’s paper, A Phenomenological Analysis of the Experience of Nursing Students’ Usage of Various Technologies Within a Hybrid Degree Program.

Qualitative Research Process

 

This research project was one of three major assignments in the program’s Critical Inquiry 2: Qualitative Research course. The official course description outlines: “Students will enhance their abilities to participate in the research process through critical reflection of various qualitative research methodologies. They will develop their abilities to comprehend, critique, and utilize qualitative data, using appropriate techniques such as clustering and thematic analysis. Students will gain practical knowledge of the many ways in which qualitative research techniques provide a contextual and in-depth understanding of people’s ways of knowing and experiencing. Students will explore ways to apply research findings to guide reflective evidence-informed nursing practice.” (Critical Inquiry 2: Qualitative Research course outline, 2017, p.1).

In 2017, I organized a research project assignment that all students in the class could participate in. The focus of the study offers meaning for the students themselves and for the program in general.

One unique aspect of this program is that all theory courses are completed online, thus a variety of technologies are used to enhance the online learning including:

  • The Moodle learning management system (LMS)
  • Mahara ePortfolios
  • Tablets and apps
  • Multimedia programs such as VoiceThread, Educreations, Adobe Spark
  • Electronic textbooks, resources, and NCLEX practice quizzes

Besides offering students a taste of how to design and implement a qualitative research study, the data collected provided rich input into how students perceived the use of technology within the online milieu.

The guidelines for the assignment included the following:

“Learners will participate in a segment of a qualitative research project supervised by the course faculty, for the purpose of actively engaging in some part of the research process. Learners will function as neophyte researchers, to gain experience in the application of a part of the research process in the area of nursing education. In 2017, this project will focus on the use of various technologies in nursing education. The final result of this collaborative work will be a completed study and publication in the Canadian Journal of Nursing Informatics in 2018.

The guiding question for this phenomenological study is: “What are nursing students’ experiences of working with various technologies in a hybrid degree program?”

The time frame for each student’s participation will depend on the research task selected. Each section selected includes the final write up of that section for the article for publication. Students will sign up for a task during the first two weeks of the course” (Course syllabus, 2017, p.9).

The study process was divided into nine tasks with a timeline and a maximum number of students who could sign up for a particular task.

The nine tasks included:

  • Known Background and Philosophy
  • Study Design
  • Sampling
  • Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • Data Collection Tool
  • Data Analysis
  • Literature Review
  • Findings
  • Limitations and Conclusions

Table 1 below summarizes the nine tasks, timeline and maximum number of participating students.

Table 1: Collaborative Research Project Tasks

Table 1: Collaborative Research Project Tasks

 

Within the learning management system, this assignment was set up as a nine-part forum. Each forum section corresponded to one of the nine study tasks.  The forum interface was selected so that all students had ready access to the work being done by students in all nine task groups. The students did well in adhering to the timelines as much as possible and the study was concluded by the end of the semester. Some tasks were more challenging than others, but all students seemed to reap benefits from collaborating in this fashion.

Participant Recruitment

Data was collected using an online anonymous survey tool with 6 demographic and 20 qualitative questions created by the assigned students within the Moodle LMS. All students in the program (semesters 1, 4 and 7) during the fall semester were invited to participate. The invitation included the following message and poster:

“In Critical Inquiry 2 – Qualitative Research, learners are participating in the development of a qualitative research project supervised by the course faculty, for the purpose of actively engaging in some part of the research process. Learners are functioning as neophyte researchers, to gain experience in the application of the research process in the area of nursing education. In 2017, this project will focus on the use of various technologies in nursing education. The guiding question for this phenomenological study is: “What are nursing students’ experiences of working with various technologies in a hybrid degree program?”

Please participate in this survey by the end of November 10, 2017 by clicking on the link below.  We thank you in advance for your participation. “

Figure 1: Student Recruitment Poster

Figure 1: Student Recruitment Poster

Task Guidelines

A task guide was created for each of the nine research tasks that included directions and links to approximately twenty relevant resources for each task. The following includes excerpts from these nine guides that illustrate how this kind of assignment can be woven into a nursing research course where each task builds on the one(s) before it.

TASK ONE BACKGROUND AND PHILOSOPHY GUIDE

Once done,  this section will be 1 to 2 pages long at most.

  1. Introduction and Purpose Statement

NOTE: I will write the final introduction for this paper, but you can begin this part by writing the purpose statement and a bit of introduction.

Here is a script for a good qualitative purpose statement:

“The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study is to ______(understand, describe, develop, discover) the ________(central focus) for _______(participants: person, process, groups) at ______________(site).”

Also tie in the KEY STUDY QUESTION: What are nursing students’ experiences of working with various technologies in a hybrid degree program?

  1. Background – why is this study important to do?

Brief literature review to look at online education, nursing education, use of technologies in education, etc.

  1. Philosophy – look at phenomenology and why it fits with this study.

 

  1. Make sure you collect your references and include in APA format to add to the final reference section.

 

TASK TWO STUDY DESIGN GUIDE

Once done this section will be 1 to 2 pages long at most (written together).

  1. Description of the study design – phenomenological, qualitative and why

This section outlines our overall research design/methodology. It includes the description of steps in carrying out our research from data collection through data analysis. The narrative in this section is often augmented by a flowchart or diagram that provides an illustration of the various steps involved.

The KEY STUDY QUESTION will be woven into this in Task 1 Background, but you need to keep this in mind as you describe the design since this is the essence of the whole study:

What are nursing students’ experiences of working with various technologies in a hybrid degree program

Explain why phenomenology fits with this study – lived experience, etc.

  1. Write about the basics of the actual study process for the data collection and analysis (other people will describe the sample and sampling and ethics).

 Keep these points in mind:

WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THIS STUDY:

SETTING: Moodle

PARTICIPANTS: Semester 1, 4, 7 nursing students

DESIGN: Phenomenology

DATA COLLECTION TOOL: Online anonymous survey tool with 20 qualitative questions

DATA ANALYSIS: Thematic analysis

 

  1. Make sure you collect your references and include in APA format to add to the final reference section.

 

TASK THREE SAMPLING GUIDE 

Once done this section will be about 1 page long at most (written together).

 

WHAT WE ALREADY KNOW ABOUT THIS STUDY:

SETTING: Moodle

PARTICIPANTS: Semester 1, 4, 7 nursing students

DESIGN: Phenomenology

DATA COLLECTION TOOL: Online anonymous survey tool with 20 qualitative questions

DATA ANALYSIS: Thematic analysis

NUMBER OF SEMESTER 1 STUDENTS: 36

NUMBER OF SEMESTER 4 STUDENTS: 38

NUMBER OF SEMESTER 7 STUDENTS: 35

 

  1. Outline sample size, how sample will be contacted with rationale for selection of sampling method

 

  1. Outline what demographic data will be collected

 

  1. Make sure you collect your references and include in APA format to add to the final reference section.

 

TASK FOUR LEGAL-ETHICAL GUIDE

 Once done this section will be about 1 to 2 pages long at most (written together) plus an informed consent and completed REB application draft.

TASKS:

  1. Outline how sample identity and data will be protected (remember all collected data will be anonymous).

 

  1. Design informed consent form (follow the REB guidelines to help you with this).

 

  1. Complete draft REB application and ROMEO Content Guide – also describe the process used to do these latter two steps in your final write up for the study.

 

  1. Make sure you collect your references and include in APA format to add to the final reference section.

TASK FIVE DATA COLLECTION TOOL GUIDE

 Once done this section include a 1 page long (at most) write up about the questions you developed and the actual 20 qualitative questions we will ask (write the questions together).

  1. Description of the qualitative questions developed.

 This section outlines the process you used to develop these questions and why these particular questions were created. Remember to read through the rest of the submissions to the project before you start e.g. Task 1 through 3 (Task 4 is due the same time as yours is).

The KEY STUDY QUESTION will be woven into this in Task 1 Background, but you need to keep this in mind as you design your actual data collection questions since this is the essence of the whole study:

What are nursing students’ experiences of working with various technologies in a hybrid degree program

Remember these are phenomenological questions so you need to delve into student’s perceptions of their experience with the technologies – lived experience, etc.

 

  1. Write your 20 questions (another 6 questions will relate to the demographic data outlined by Task 3 group: yours will be open-ended questions focused on student experience).  

 

  1. Make sure you collect your references and include in APA format to add to the final reference section.

 

TASK SIX DATA ANALYSIS GUIDE

 Once done this section should be about 4 – 6 pages long write up with the analysis of the survey questions (6 demographic, 20 open-ended questions).

 

  1. Description of the qualitative thematic analysis method

 This section outlines the process you used to analyze these questions and why these it fits phenomenological studies. Remember to read through the rest of the submissions to the project before you start e.g. Task 1 through 5 – now available as a partial edited paper in the project forum.

The KEY STUDY QUESTION will be woven into this in Task 1 Background, but you need to keep this in mind as you design your actual data collection questions since this is the essence of the whole study:

What are nursing students’ experiences of working with various technologies in a hybrid degree program?

Remember these are phenomenological questions so the analysis needs to delve into student’s perceptions of their experience with the technologies – lived experience, etc.

 

  1. Analyze the 26 questions to summarize the demographic data and interpret the themes shown in the open-ended questions.

 

  1. Make sure you collect your references and include in APA format to add to the final reference section.

 

TASK SEVEN LITERATURE REVIEW GUIDE

 Once done this section should be about 2 to 4 pages long write up in total.

  1. Write a relevant well-synthesized literature review based on the data collected and analyzed:

 This section of the paper provides support from the literature to substantiate the themes that are evident from the participants’ data responses (Task 5) and the analyzed data by the Data Analysis group (Task 6).

The raw data is posted near the bottom of the Task 6 forum page.

The analyzed data will also be posted at the above link by the Task 6 group

You should make sure this flows with the paper that has been written to date (see forum)

 

  1. Make sure you collect your references and include in APA format to add to the final reference section.

 

TASK EIGHT FINDINGS GUIDE

Once done this section should be about 4 – 6 pages long write up based on the thematic analysis done by Group 6 (Data analysis).

  1. Deeper discussion of the qualitative thematic analysis

 This section summarizes the thematic analysis done by Group 6 in a more synthesized way.

The KEY STUDY QUESTION will be woven into this in Task 1 Background, but you need to keep this in mind as you discuss the findings (results):

What are nursing students’ experiences of working with various technologies in a hybrid degree program?

Remember these are phenomenological questions so the findings need to delve into student’s perceptions of their experience with the technologies – lived experience, etc.

 The raw data is posted near the bottom of the Task 6 forum page.

The analyzed data will also be posted at the above link by the Task 6 group

You should make sure this flows with the paper that has been written to date (see forum)

  1. Make sure you collect your references and include in APA format to add to the final reference section.

TASK NINE CONCLUSIONS GUIDE 

Once done this section should be about a 2 pages long write up in total.

  1. Write Recommendations for further study: 

This section outlines recommendations for more research on this topic based on a) the literature review b) data analysis c) the fact that this is a qualitative and small sample study, etc.

  1. Write Limitations for this study: 

This section outlines limitations of this study, e.g. small sample, qualitative, exploratory nature, phenomenological (based on perceptions of lived experience), generalizability, etc.

  1. Write Conclusions for this study. 

Look at all of the work that has been done before (the Task 8 Findings group is working on their section at the same time as you, so you should keep in touch with them to see the directions they are going in as you work).

The raw data is posted near the bottom of the Task 6 forum page.

The analyzed data will also be posted at the above link by the Task 6 group

The literature review will be posted by the Task 7 group:

You should make sure this flows with the paper that has been written to date (see forum)

4. Make sure you collect your references and include in APA format to add to the final reference section.

 

Benefits of Collaborative Research for Learning

Collaborative and interdisciplinary research has become a common standard for research in health and social sciences, including nursing. This assignment gave the participating students a safe space to practice collaborating by working with specific task teams (two to eight students depending on the complexity of the task) and with all nine task groups. “An important determinant of a successful collaborative research project is the establishment of a system of communication to get the study accomplished and to avoid free riding. A good system of communication could include a protocol for identifying designated personnel responsible for different tasks” (Delgadillo, 2016, p. 6).  A secure forum within the Moodle LMS was used to facilitate communication, organization, sharing of work, identifying responsible team members, and monitoring student progress within the nine tasks. As well, each task group was responsible for the final writing associated with their task  for the presenting paper. This assured that all members were equal contributors to the disseminated work. Student authors were listed alphabetically with the faculty member name listed last. This collaboration also helped each student feel more comfortable with the scholarly writing for publication process.

Reference

Delgadillo, L. (2016). Best Practices for Collaboration in Research. Family and Consumer Sciences Research Journal, 45(1), September, 5–8.

 

 

 

 

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