Poster presentations are an excellent forum for communicating nursing research findings. This forum allows researchers to present research findings to the public much sooner than through publication. During poster sessions, the researcher is able to discuss methodology and results in a less formal setting than a paper presentation. The presenter also is able to have one-to-one conversations with those interested in his or her study (Burns & Grove, 1987; Polit & Hungler, 1987; Sexton, 1984). A nurse attending a poster presentation is usually exposed to many different studies from a wide variety of clinical areas in a very short time. This has the advantage of exposing the practitioner to the most recent knowledge available to nursing.
Baccalaureate nursing students are encouraged to become consumers of nursing research, but are rarely exposed to the various sources of nursing research findings except through the critique of journal articles. This limits their research exposure to those articles that they have individually critiqued. Evaluating students' knowledge of the research process and practical applications of research findings is often limited to the grading of critiques.
A poster presentation session offers another means of evaluating a student's knowledge of the research process and the clinical application of the results. Also, students are exposed to a wide variety of research topics and are able to ask questions of the presenters in an informal setting.
Poster presentations could be used as a final for a research course in lieu of an objective exam or at any other point in the course. Students are instructed to review the journals and select a research article on a topic of personal interest. During the course, they should identify components of a research report in their article as the content is presented in lecture. One lecture focuses on the process of acceptance of an abstract for a poster presentation all the way through to the preparation of a poster. Several faculty posters are shown to students as examples.
During the poster session, the class is divided into halves, with one group presenting their posters during the first hour of class and the other group walking around the room discussing the research findings/ implications with their classmates. During this time, course faculty are evaluating the students' posters on set criteria. The criteria used in this author's course include the following:
1. Research problem is clearly stated.
2. Research design is clearly stated.
3. Sample is described.
4. Significant findings are present.
5. Significance to nursing is outlined.
6. Poster is neat and legible.
7. Presenter is able to discuss article with instructor.
Presenting students are expected to be able to respond verbally to questions by the instructor regarding methodology used in the study, sample description, conceptual framework for study, and significance/ implication for nursing without referring to the article. After a prescribed amount of time, the other half of the class presents their posters while the first group discusses research findings with presenters.
Attention needs to be given to arrangement of the room, so that tables are available for placement of posters. Tables can be either in a row or U-like arrangement. Refreshments can be served in an effort to simulate the atmosphere of a nursing research poster session. Faculty and students outside the course could be invited to attend the session to increase their exposure to more recent nursing knowledge.
Students must be able to comprehend and evaluate the components of a research report in order to accurately present the findings in a poster. Poster presentations in a research course socialize the nursing students to a method of communicating research findings in a manner widely used at nursing seminars.
- Burns, N., & Grove, S. (1987). The practice of nursing research: Conduct, critique and utilization. Phila.: W.B. Saunders.
- Polit, D., & Hungler, B. (1987). Nursing research principles and methods (4th ed.). Phila.: J.B. Lippincott.
- Sexton, D. (1984). Presentation of research findings: The poster session. Nursing Research, 33, 374-375.