First Advisor

McCallum, Colleen

Second Advisor

Cullen, Patricia L.


Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions

Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice


Loretto Heights School of Nursing

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

101 pages


Executive Summary

Undergraduate nursing students at a Midwestern community college struggled to understand and retain content presented in long lecture format courses. The Population, Intervention, Comparison, and Outcomes (PICO) for the program are as follows: P—Nursing students at a Midwestern community college in terms 1, 2, 4, and 5 of the LPN and ADN program; I—Use of guided practice as an active learning teaching strategy in the lab setting to enhance nursing student self-directed learning readiness in terms 1 and 4; C— Nursing students in term 2 and term 5 at a Midwestern community college who did not have a lab course that used guided practice; O— Increased student results on a self-directed learning readiness post-test questionnaire compared to the pre-test results. The PICO question was: “In Midwestern community college nursing students enrolled in current lab courses, does using guided practice as an active learning strategy during lab, develop better self-directed learning skills?”
The purpose of the project was to determine if active learning strategies impacted nursing students by increasing the student’s level of self-directed learning.
Goals and Objectives
Goals included increased self-directed learning scores, student engagement, lower attrition rates, increased NCLEX pass rates, and increased course grades. The objectives of this project were to determine if active learning strategies, specifically the use of guided practice in the lab setting, increased a nursing student’s self-directed learning, and to determine what demographic factors affected a nursing student’s self-directed learning.
A quantitative pretest and posttest design was implemented. Students received an emailed link with the self-rating scale of self-directed learning questionnaire pretest at the start of the semester and were given the same questionnaire as the posttest at the end of the semester. Students formed four different groups and two of the groups received the guided practice active learning intervention in a lab course. The data from each participant’s pretest and posttest scores were coded and analyzed using an independent t-test to compare means. Descriptive statistics were also collected for demographic variables and were coded for frequency counts.
Outcomes and Results
Of the students enrolled in the spring semester of the nursing program, 47 students completed the pre-test and 59 completed the post-test SRSSDL tool. The results of this study were inconclusive that the use of guided practice as an active learning strategy alone increases a nursing student’s level of self-directed learning in one semester of nursing school. Guided practice may have been one of several contributors amongst other active learning strategies and inherent individual student characteristics and growth that caused all four terms of students to have higher self-directed learning scores on the SRSSDL tool at the end of the semester than at the beginning of the semester. The p-value for comparing the overall pre-test and post-test of all terms combined was .027 showing statistically significant results for a difference in the pre-test and post-test for all terms but was not significant when comparing the intervention and control groups. The Pearson’s coefficient for the project was 0.9983 and Cronbach’s alpha for the overall project was 0.8672. Students report that they appreciate the use of active learning strategies rather than strictly lectures, and other research supports the use of active learning strategies to encourage student engagement and learning. Students should also be encouraged to take the SRSSDL to allow them to see where they fall on the scale. They should then be encouraged to determine what inherent demographic factors help them to be self-directed learners and then to use those qualities and the iii SRSSDL tool to continue to increase their levels of SDL while in nursing school and during their careers as they continue to be lifelong learners.

Date of Award

Fall 2015

Location (Creation)

Denver, Colorado

Rights Statement

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