How nurse educators in associate degree programs learn to teach

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Higher Education


Nancy F. Gadbow


nurse educators

Subject Categories

Adult and Continuing Education and Teaching


The purpose of this study was to explore how nurse-educators in associate degree nursing programs learned to teach. The current trend in graduate nursing education is toward clinical specialization rather than functional role preparation at the master's level. Consequently, novice nurse-educators are hired to teach with minimal experience.

The population consisted of 406 nurse-educators teaching in associate degree programs located in New York State. The survey questionnaire developed for this study was based upon the LeClair, Learning To Teach survey (1989), information identified in the literature review, and responses obtained from interviews conducted with nurse-educators regarding how they learned to teach. The sample consisted of 406 nurse-educators teaching in associate degree programs located in New York State.

Data analysis consisted of identifying which learning experiences nurse-educators valued most by calculating the mean of the Likert scale values and computing standard deviations for each item; determining which factors served to underlie the ways nurse-educators learned to teach through the use of principal components analysis and factor analysis of the data; identifying relationships between the identified factors and selected characteristics of nurse-educators through the use of t-tests, ANOVA, and Pearson Correlation.

The data indicate that these nurse-educators used self-directed learning methods in developing their teaching skills. These methods were categorized into four factors: experience, assistance from colleagues, observation, and expert knowledge. Qualitative data revealed that these nurse-educators also relied on trial and error, on-the-job training, role models, mentors, and feedback from colleagues. Many found their graduate education courses and graduate teaching practicum helpful. Some also found that teaching experiences gained through community service and as staff nurses helped in acquiring their teaching skills.

Since self-directed learning activities were valued by many, this method of learning should be encouraged in nursing curricula. Master teachers serving as mentors and resource people, workshops in teaching strategies, and test construction, and post-graduate programs that include courses in education would be beneficial in helping novice nurse-educators learn to teach. Recommendations are suggested.


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