What do they do? Student study behaviour
Snelling, P. C. and Lipscomb, M. (2010) What do they do? Student study behaviour. In: Royal College of Nursing of the United Kingdom: 2010 International Nursing Research Conference, Sage Gateshead, 11th to 13th May 2010.
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Enhancing the student experience is seen as crucial in reducing attrition (Department of Health, 2006) and improving attainment in nurse education and, in order to improve provision, a greater understanding of how students actually go about their studies is required. We here present the findings of an exploratory study that prospectively investigated the number of hours diploma level students spent in activities connected with a single third year module in a pre-registration nursing programme. Two important themes emerged from the data. First, the overwhelming majority of study group students spent less time in activities related to the module than module design assumes. On average, students studied for approximately two thirds of stipulated hours and, for the study group, required programme hours are not being met. This finding supports those reported elsewhere (e.g. Sastry and Bekhradnia, 2007). Interestingly, study group students had better attendance records and achieved better pass rates than non-study group students. Although our data do not permit extrapolation, it is possible that the non-study group spent even less time in activities related to the module. Second, more than half of students in the study group undertook paid work. Indeed, some students spent more time in paid work than they did on academic work. No substantive reduction in grade attainment was found in the paid working group as opposed to the non-working group. However, for some, paid work was at a level associated with reduced academic performance by, for example, Salamonson and Andrew (2005). The study raises interesting and important questions about course design and the student experience. In particular, the findings point towards practical and logical difficulties in meeting regulatory requirements within a framework of a three year, 4600 hour programme. We suggest these ‘difficulties’ are likely to become more overt as English nursing becomes ‘degree only’.