Retaining the Online RN to BSN Nursing Student: Does Instructor Immediacy Matter?
DellAntonio, Jennifer K.
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Session presented on Monday, September 19, 2016: The academic success and retention of nursing students has gained increased attention as the United States endures the most severe nursing shortage in history. While there is a need for greater numbers of registered nurses in general, there is a specific need to increase the baccalaureate prepared nurse to 80 percent by 2020 (AACN, 2008; IOM, 2011). In response to meeting this current educational need, the growth of online RN-to-BSN nursing programs fulfills this demand. Improving retention in these particular programs will help meet the demands for increasing numbers of BSN-educated nurses. Leadership in nursing education programs are under considerable pressure to recruit, retain, and expand enrollment of students in baccalaureate programs in nursing. Therefore it is imperative that nursing faculty gain understanding of variables impacting online student success and retention. Developing effective online interaction has become a major challenge for nurse educators. Research data suggests one major reason for low retention rates is lack of instructor immediacy. Immediacy refers to communication behaviors that increase social and psychological closeness between people (Mehrabian, 1971). While instructor immediacy in traditional classes has been shown to motivate and retain students, create a sense of connection, and support their learning and success, it is not known whether or how immediacy can improve retention rates or success in a fully online nursing program. This study seeks to determine if perceived nurse educator's immediacy behaviors can impact retention rates among RN to BSN students in a web-based program. The sample population was taken from Lock Haven University, Clearfield, Pennsylvania targeting the online RN to BSN program nursing students. Instrument: The Jeffreys (2004) Nursing Undergraduate Retention and Success (NURS) conceptual model provided the framework for this descriptive correlational study. In addition, Corona's immediacy survey along with demographics question set was included. The overall survey used a 6-point Likert scale, ranging from 'strongly agree' to 'strongly disagree'. The research questions investigated in the study focused on online instructor immediacy as it relates to praise (words of approval), encouragement (words of support) and examples provided, such as, during assignment feedback, in email and discussion posts. Results: Preliminary data suggests instructor immediacy such as praise and encouragement through emails or assignment feedback impacted student's decision to complete the BSN. Data is currently being collected on this project. The findings will provide faculty with a better understanding of online course management and implement teaching/learning strategies that may increase retention and improve student success with online learning.