Date of Award

Spring 5-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Chair

Dr. Kristy Halverson

Committee Chair Department

Center for Science and Math Education

Committee Member 2

Dr. Sheila Hendry

Committee Member 2 Department

Biological Sciences

Committee Member 3

Dr. Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Studies and Research

Committee Member 4

Dr. Richard Mohn

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Studies and Research

Committee Member 5

Dr. Jennifer Regan

Committee Member 5 Department

Biological Sciences

Abstract

The nursing profession combines the art of caregiving with scientific concepts. Nursing students need to learn science in order to start in a nursing program. However, previous research showed that students left the nursing program, stating it included too much science (Andrew et al., 2008). Research has shown a correlation between students’ attitudes and their performance in a subject (Osborne, Simon, & Collins, 2003). However, little research exists on the overall attitude of nursing students toward science. At the time of my study there existed no large scale quantitative study on my topic. The purpose of my study was to identify potential obstacles nursing students face, specifically, attitude and motivation toward learning science. According to research the nation will soon face a nursing shortage and students cite the science content as a reason for not completing the nursing program. My study explored nursing students’ attitudes toward science and reasons these students are motivated to learn science. I ran a nationwide mixed methods approach with 1,402 participants for the quantitative portion and 4 participants for the qualitative portion. I validated a questionnaire in order to explore nursing students’ attitudes toward science, discovered five different attitude scales in that questionnaire and determined what demographic factors provided a statistically significant prediction of a student’s score. In addition, I discovered no statistical difference in attitude exists between students who have the option of taking ii nursing specific courses and those who do not have that option. I discovered in the qualitative interviews that students feel science is necessary in nursing but do not feel nurses are scientists. My study gives a baseline of the current attitude of nursing students toward science and why these students feel the need to learn the science.

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