Journal of Nursing Education

Research Briefs 

Faculty to Faculty: Advice for Educators New to Teaching in Accelerated Second Baccalaureate Degree Nursing Programs

Melissa R. Boellaard, MS, RN; Cheryl L. Brandt, PhD, RN, ACNS-BC; CeCelia R. Zorn, PhD, RN

Abstract

Background:

Despite a growing faculty shortage, accelerated second baccalaureate degree nursing programs (ASBSN) proliferate. To prepare faculty for this teaching role, guide their development, and enhance recruitment and retention, ASBSN faculty in this descriptive study offered advice to new ASBSN educators.

Method:

Data were collected online from ASBSN faculty (N = 93) across the midwestern United States.

Results:

Six themes emerged: (a) Plan for Program Intensity That Stresses Students and Faculty, (b) Be Available, Flexible, Open-Minded, and Patient, (c) Uphold Early-Established Expectations and Rigorous Standards, (d) Be Prepared for Challenging Questions: Know Your Material and Be Organized, (e) Integrate Students’ Diversity Into Teaching and Learning, and (f) Adapt Content and Teaching Strategies to Align With Student and Program Characteristics. Consistency with the Suplee and Gardner new faculty orientation model was explored.

Conclusion:

Respondents viewed new ASBSN faculty as active agents who can influence their own effectiveness and success. [J Nurs Educ. 2015;54(6):343–346.]

Ms. Boellaard is Clinical Agency Coordinator for Pre-Licensure Programs, Dr. Brandt is Professor, and Dr. Zorn is Professor Emerita, Department of Nursing, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

This study was supported by the Delta Phi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International and the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.

The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

The authors thank Julia Lehman Caldwell, Cindy Albert, Karen Maddox, and Teresa Loftsgaarden for their assistance in designing the tool’s Qualtrics format and piloting its feasibility. They thank Deidra Rykal for her help in the sample selection process and the study respondents for their time and thoughtfulness.

Address correspondence to Melissa R. Boellaard, MS, RN, Clinical Agency Coordinator for Pre-Licensure Programs, Department of Nursing, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004; e-mail: provosmr@uwec.edu.

Received: September 09, 2014
Accepted: February 18, 2015

Abstract

Background:

Despite a growing faculty shortage, accelerated second baccalaureate degree nursing programs (ASBSN) proliferate. To prepare faculty for this teaching role, guide their development, and enhance recruitment and retention, ASBSN faculty in this descriptive study offered advice to new ASBSN educators.

Method:

Data were collected online from ASBSN faculty (N = 93) across the midwestern United States.

Results:

Six themes emerged: (a) Plan for Program Intensity That Stresses Students and Faculty, (b) Be Available, Flexible, Open-Minded, and Patient, (c) Uphold Early-Established Expectations and Rigorous Standards, (d) Be Prepared for Challenging Questions: Know Your Material and Be Organized, (e) Integrate Students’ Diversity Into Teaching and Learning, and (f) Adapt Content and Teaching Strategies to Align With Student and Program Characteristics. Consistency with the Suplee and Gardner new faculty orientation model was explored.

Conclusion:

Respondents viewed new ASBSN faculty as active agents who can influence their own effectiveness and success. [J Nurs Educ. 2015;54(6):343–346.]

Ms. Boellaard is Clinical Agency Coordinator for Pre-Licensure Programs, Dr. Brandt is Professor, and Dr. Zorn is Professor Emerita, Department of Nursing, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

This study was supported by the Delta Phi Chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International and the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire.

The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

The authors thank Julia Lehman Caldwell, Cindy Albert, Karen Maddox, and Teresa Loftsgaarden for their assistance in designing the tool’s Qualtrics format and piloting its feasibility. They thank Deidra Rykal for her help in the sample selection process and the study respondents for their time and thoughtfulness.

Address correspondence to Melissa R. Boellaard, MS, RN, Clinical Agency Coordinator for Pre-Licensure Programs, Department of Nursing, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire, Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004; e-mail: provosmr@uwec.edu.

Received: September 09, 2014
Accepted: February 18, 2015

The shortage of nursing faculty continues to grow. On the basis of a national survey of faculty (N = 4,118), Roughton (2013) described the numerous, interrelated factors contributing to this shortage. The 16 characteristics and perceptions found to predict faculty intent to leave within the next year included position funding, satisfaction, and work variety, as well as a diminished opportunity to use skills, an unresponsive work culture, and inadequate collegial relationships. Yet, as complex, myriad factors escalate the faculty shortage, accelerated second baccalaureate degree nursing programs (ASBSN) are increasing. Currently, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN, 2014) reports that 256 programs have been established since 1971. It is widely recognized that these programs are intense and fast paced and the students are typically different from traditional baccalaureate students. Because of the unique student and program characteristics, teaching in an ASBSN program poses a challenge—one that is highly demanding but can also be exceedingly rewarding. However, faculty moving into ASBSN education are often unprepared. In addition, when they are in the trenches of day-to-day teaching, time and opportunities for faculty development may be minimal.

Recommendations from current ASBSN educators can help to prepare faculty new to this role and guide faculty development. As a result, faculty satisfaction and retention may be enhanced. The purpose of this article is to describe the advice offered by ASBSN faculty to educators new to teaching in an ASBSN program. The study reported here is the third component of a larger study (Brandt, Boellaard, & Zorn, 2013, 2015).

Literature Review

Orientation for faculty new to nursing education is broadly described in the literature. For example, Suplee and Gardner (2009) suggested a new faculty orientation model, which is depicted by three overlapping circles representing the following areas: faculty role (e.g., teaching, evaluation), program specific characteristics (e.g., curriculum, accreditation), and department or college culture (e.g., productivity, networking). Others described specific orientation programs for novice faculty (Baker, 2010; Barksdale et al., 2011). Faculty socialization and the importance of developing a professional faculty identity were addressed by several authors. Fostering socialization was one of 10 suggestions offered by two novice faculty to enhance recruitment and retention (Hessler & Ritchie, 2006). In her phenomenological study of professional identity, Becker (2013) developed a conceptual model to demonstrate relationships among six themes that emerged from the data provided by 13 expert nurse academics. Becker maintained that professional identity is relevant throughout one’s career.

In contrast, the literature about ASBSN faculty orientation is sparse. Being prepared for students’ questioning and their desire to be challenged supported the theme “At the Top of My Game” in a study by Cangelosi and Moss (2010, p. 137) of 14 ASBSN faculty. “Figuring it Out On My Own” was another theme that supported the need for faculty preparation (Cangelosi, 2013, p. 275).

Nursing faculty orientation has been well addressed in the literature. Further, the uniqueness of ASBSN programs and their students is well described, and understanding of ASBSN faculty experiences and emotions is underway (Brandt et al., 2013). However, research-based discussion that provides specific guidance for faculty moving into ASBSN education was not found. This article, reporting one component of a larger study that used a large sample from a broad geographic region, provides a beginning, evidence-based approach to ASBSN faculty orientation.

Method

The method for the current descriptive survey, which collected qualitative data, is summarized (for a detailed description, see Brandt et al., 2013). After institutional review board approval, 25 schools of nursing in 11 midwestern states that offered ASBSN programs were randomly selected. In spring 2011, all nursing faculty, academic staff, and administrators (N = 986) in those schools were individually e-mailed a cover letter about the study, with a link to the Accelerated Second Baccalaureate Degree BSN Faculty Experiences Survey (AFES) distributed through the Qualtrics® online program. Designed for this study, the AFES contains 22 demographic and descriptive items, as well as 10 open-ended questions in four domains. Domain Four—Advice for New ASBSN Faculty (1 item)—is the focus of this article.

All three authors acknowledged their biases about ASBSN education early in the development of the survey. Preliminary content validity was determined by the authors—all of whom had rich firsthand knowledge and experience in accelerated nursing education. In addition, an extensive literature review guided survey development. More than 35 articles were reviewed. Most articles were published in the previous 5 years, and they included nonresearch articles and research reports conducted with ASBSN students, graduates, and faculty. Following survey development, the AFES was pilot tested by two faculty colleagues who were not on the research team.

Responses to the demographic and descriptive items were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Using the completed surveys that met the inclusion criteria (i.e., self-identified as having substantial experience teaching in an ASBSN program), data were analyzed from 93 respondents. Responses were exported from Qualtrics to an Excel® spreadsheet; data were cleaned and imported into NVivo 9® software. Software compatibility enabled seamless data transfer, thus increasing the study’s credibility (Polit & Beck, 2012).

Functions in NVivo 9 were used to perform data analysis. For example, word frequency queries were conducted to help identify significant recurrent words, which were then further explored using text searches. These searches identified related terms used by different respondents. One author read all responses to the item multiple times and coded similar concepts as nodes in NVivo 9. The authors reviewed all coded nodes to achieve consensus on coding and collaborated to identify themes. Consistent with the procedure for data analysis used in all components of the study, the authors agreed that a theme would be established if 10% or more of the respondents provided comments that were coded as the same node. In addition, one comment could support more than one node and thus contribute to more than one theme.

Several strategies enhanced the current study’s trustworthiness, as described by Lincoln and Guba (1985). First, all authors were involved in all data collection and analysis decisions; this investigator triangulation strengthened the study’s credibility. Second, purposeful sampling contributed to the study’s transferability. In addition, all methodological decisions made in this study have been carefully documented in an audit trail, with a particular focus on AFES development, sampling, and data analysis. This documentation enhanced the confirmability and the dependability of the study (Polit & Beck, 2012).

Findings

Most of the 93 respondents were female (94%) and Caucasian (94%). Eighty-two percent taught 6 years or less in an ASBSN program. Fifty-one percent were 50 to 59 years old; 58% held master’s degrees, and 42% held a doctorate. Seventyfive percent (n = 70) of respondents indicated that they had substantial experience teaching in both ASBSN and traditional BSN nursing programs. Half of the 66 respondents who indicated a teaching preference favored the ASBSN program, whereas the other half preferred teaching in a traditional BSN program.

Respondents answered the following question on the AFES: “If you were asked to advise a new ASBSN faculty member, what key points would you include in your discussion?” Six themes emerged. Interestingly, the first theme—Plan for Program Intensity That Stresses Students and Faculty (n = 12)—did not limit stress solely to the faculty. One respondent said, “They [the students] are frail and scared TOO…. Sometimes the bravado is a show! They are risking much to succeed.” Another respondent answered, “Develop a support system for this cohort of students on the campus.” Focusing on program implications for faculty, respondents said, “Be ready to double time your life. Put your personal time on hold” and “Prepare for the extreme exhaustion!”

The second theme—Be Available, Flexible, Open-Minded, and Patient—was demonstrated by many respondents (n = 23) who said, (a) “Stay willing to work with the whole class, with groups, and with individuals;” (b) “Be flexible, willing to change your approach with each cohort;” (c) “Be ready to… think outside the box; and (d) “Patience is required, just as it is for any students.”

Another theme emerged—Uphold Early-Established Expectations and Rigorous Standards (n = 22). One respondent stated:

Be sure that they [the students] understand your expectations of them from the beginning. Hold them accountable to the same standards as the traditional students. Don’t give them preferential treatment because it causes further division between them and the traditional students.

Others said, “Set the rigor high; students WILL reach it” and “Expect them to succeed.”

Data from 19 respondents supported the theme Be Prepared for Challenging Questions: Know Your Material and Be Organized. Challenging questions were viewed positively by some respondents, as one stated: “These students are smart and capable consumers. They challenge me to challenge them.” Other respondents viewed the challenges from ASBSN students more negatively. One respondent described the students as “fatigued, cranky, and demanding.” Another said, “Do not take it personally if they challenge you, but be prepared to not allow yourself to be pushed around.” A third respondent offered the following advice: “Embrace their questions, don’t feel threatened.” In addition, other respondents emphasized the importance of knowing the material and being organized. They stated, “Have very strong organizational skills” and “Know your material well…. Have a time line.” Another said, “You may be lecturing pathophysiology to a research biologist, communication to someone who has a degree in communication, counseling to someone with a psychology/counseling degree.”

The theme Integrate Students’ Diversity Into Teaching and Learning was broadly supported by respondents (n = 31), who stressed the importance of getting to know the students “as individuals and respect that they are a diverse group” and “build from their strengths.” After highlighting students’ diverse obligations, family, and jobs, another respondent suggested to “find a way to mesh the content with their experience.” Finally, one individual stated, “Don’t tell them how to do things, tell them what needs to be done and let them amaze you with their creativity.”

The final theme that emerged was Adapt Content and Teaching Strategies to Align With Student and Program Characteristics (n = 24). One respondent stated, “Address the knowledge needs of the group that comes with very different preparation…. Varying teaching strategies is a must.” Another respondent advised, “Teach essential concepts…. Teach as adult learners.” Finally, another stated, “Let the students’ background be an asset in understanding nursing.”

Discussion

Even after being presented with multiple previous open-ended items on the AFES, 93 of the 129 respondents of the larger study completed the item that was analyzed for this article. They remained engaged with the lengthy survey; grounded in their own experience, they chose to advise and counsel new ASBSN faculty, rather than end their participation. Their dedication to help new faculty is striking and encouraging. Might this evidence-based faculty voice suggest a unique dimension of preceptorship among faculty that has not been explored? ASBSN faculty teaching in hectic programs have limited time to meet with and mentor new faculty. Faced with this dilemma, a novel and more feasible approach to preceptorship might include guiding new faculty to research to help them prepare for their role.

Respondents in this study confirmed the earlier literature when they advised Be Prepared for Challenging Questions: Know Your Material and Be Organized. For example, students and faculty have described the importance of current clinical skills. Students noted that ASBSN faculty who also practice while teaching is significant to their learning; they “want to be taught by up-to-date faculty who are committed to their own learning” (Rico, Beal, & Davies, 2010, p. 153). This importance was echoed by new faculty (Cangelosi & Moss, 2010), who noted that their clinical expertise helped them to feel more confident in clinical teaching. Indeed, all nursing faculty must be knowledgeable about current practice and issues, but this appears to be even more critical for ASBSN educators.

At first glance, the theme Integrate Students’ Diversity Into Teaching and Learning may be subsumed into the theme Adapt Content and Teaching Strategies to Align With Student and Program Characteristics. However, the authors believed it was important to represent the 24 faculty whose responses addressed integrating student diversity but did not address adapting content and teaching strategies. Further, appreciating that data from 52% of the respondents supported one or both of these themes, attending to them both is critical. If teaching strategies are deliberately adapted to honor students’ diverse characteristics and experiences, learning is richer and more personal.

The six themes that emerged in the current study are relevant for new ASBSN faculty as they make the transition to their new role. All six themes fall within the faculty role in the new faculty orientation model (Suplee & Gardner, 2009). In addition, three of the six themes are also consistent with the intersection between the faculty role and program-specific areas: Uphold Early-Established Expectations and Rigorous Academic Standards, Be Prepared for Challenging Questions: Know Your Material and Be Organized, and Adapt Content and Teaching Strategies to Align With Student and Program Characteristics.

Clearly, respondents were emphasizing the faculty role. Perhaps they perceived that role as something faculty new to ASBSN education could shape and control most easily. That is, characteristics of the program and department or college are more structured and less malleable. Yet, content in orientation programs often focuses more heavily on program and department or college information, whereas content related to the faculty role is minimized. Results from the current study press nurse educators to rectify this imbalance.

Strengths of this study include a large sample size, broad geographic representation, and electronic data collection. However, only initial content validity of the AFES, which was designed for this study, was established, and further psychometric assessment of the tool is needed. In addition, a survey response rate of participants who met the inclusion criteria could not be calculated because respondents participated based on their self-identification after receiving a widely disseminated invitation. Several areas for further research are identified—(a) expanding sample size and geographic representation; (b) assessing the effectiveness of specific orientation strategies for faculty new to ASBSN education; (c) designing and examining ASBSN faculty orientation approaches, using the model proposed by Suplee and Gardner (2009); and (d) using faculty recruitment and retention as measures of orientation effectiveness in ASBSN education.

Conclusion

The six themes found in this study center around three major areas of advice for ASBSN faculty—(a) planning and preparing (e.g., expect program intensity and challenging questions), (b) being student centered (e.g., flexibility, patience, incorporate student diversity), and (c) upholding curricular standards. The depth and breadth of advice that respondents offered are invigorating; internalizing this advice will help new faculty to thrive in the midst of ASBSN intensity. Respondents viewed faculty new to ASBSN education as active agents who have the power to influence their own effectiveness and success in this new position. As new faculty assume this personal ownership, veteran faculty must create new ways to encourage and design new ways to sustain them. Only then will the tide of faculty shortage be reversed.

References

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