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Small Group Mentoring - El Paso Community College .Small Group Mentoring 1 Small Group Mentoring:

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  • Small Group Mentoring 1

    Small Group Mentoring: A Method for Improving Outcomes in Foundations of Nursing Practice 4/14/2013 El Paso Community College Teachership Academy Jose Luis Lopez MSN, RN

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    The purpose of this study is to determine the effectiveness of small group mentoring in first

    semester nursing students, aimed at improving outcomes in the Foundations of Nursing

    Practice course. The conceptual framework is derived from Florence Nightingales

    Environmental Theory in which the main focus was the control of the environment of

    individuals and families. Through the manipulation of the environment of both negative and

    positive outcomes, a balance can be maintained. The research design is a descriptive

    longitudinal study using a convenience sample of first semester nursing students over the span

    of four semesters (Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, and Fall 2012). The control group for this

    study is the first semester nursing students during Spring 2010 where no mentoring took place.

    Findings in the review of literature suggest that faculty mentoring and support of students have

    a positive impact on the retention of students. Supportive social networks, community

    involvement, as well as family and home involvement play a significant role in the success of

    first semester nursing students. In conclusion, mentoring of first semester nursing students has

    been effective in their performance of unit exams. If we are to improve the outcomes of first

    semester nursing students, a more formal approach to mentoring must be established. Our

    Nursing Program is bound to face major challenges if we do not continue to provide a network

    of support to our nursing students.

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    More than four decades ago, John E. Roueche highlighted calls for increased attention to

    student progress and success in his first book Accountability and The Community College;

    Directions For The 70s. Since then numerous reports have been published which suggest that

    we have seen too little improvement in our public schools and community colleges. In an

    article published by the Center for Community College Student Engagement in 2010, The Heart

    of Student Success, Mr. Roueche (Director of Community College Leadership Program at The

    University of Texas at Austin), stated, It is well known that the great majority of students

    enrolling in community colleges require remediation in one or more of the basic academic skills

    and that most community colleges function as emergency rooms for many of their entering

    students. Not only are many students still alarmingly underprepared for college, but they too

    often have developed an active aversion to mathematics, English, and the educational process

    more generally.

    Students enrolled in the El Paso Community College (EPCC) Nursing Program are no

    exception to the many obstacles faced by students at other community colleges throughout the

    country. Most of the nursing students at EPCC are of Hispanic origin, with English as their

    second language. Many come from low income families and must maintain employment in

    order to pay for school and support their families. Single mothers are not uncommon, and

    neither is being the first person in their immediate family to attend college. Many lack a solid

    support system at home to assist them with the rigors of nursing school. Some face social

    isolation from their friends and family since most of their time is spent playing catch-up with

    their studies in order to achieve success.

    Many nursing students have a difficult time adjusting to the enormous amount of

    information presented during their first semester of study, as well as to the question format

    used in unit and standardized exams. Entering students continue to demonstrate a deficiency in

    study and test taking skills. The process of critical thinking is an essential

    component/requirement in the students ability to correctly answer assessment and application

    type questions.

    In her book Notes on Nursing Florence Nightingale emphasizes the roles of environmental

    management and manipulating the environment to prevent diseases. She focuses on a

    relationship of cooperation and collaboration. The conceptual framework for this study is

    derived from Florence Nightingales theory. The design of this model, in which the major

    components are student, environment, and faculty, illustrates how the manipulation of the

    environment can play a significant role in student success and provides the structure for

    understanding those external factors which affect the students during their course of study.

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    Mentoring students during their first semester of study may very well be the key in improving

    overall test scores and success rates of first semester nursing students.


    The vast majority of students admitted into the nursing program are only used to

    memorizing information and answering knowledge-based questions. They do not realize that

    nursing school requires that they understand concepts and apply them to various situations.

    The unit exam questions and the standardized examination from Assessment/Technologies

    Institute, LLC (ATI), are of similar format utilized by the NCLEX-RN examination, required by the

    Texas Board of Nursing for licensure in the State of Texas. Some students are not academically

    prepared for the rigors of the nursing program while others may lack the discipline, enthusiasm,

    commitment and motivation to succeed. Their first encounter with reality seems to be when

    they take their first unit exam, and for some disbelief in their performance is not uncommon.

    Nursing exams not only test the acquired knowledge of the assigned material, but also the

    students ability to apply that knowledge in real situations.


    The purpose of this study is to determine the efficacy of a small group mentoring

    intervention program aimed at improving test scores of first semester students in Foundations

    of Nursing Practice.


    This research is guided by the following research questions:

    1) Will small group mentoring improve test scores of first semester nursing students?

    2) Is there a correlation between early mentoring intervention and the performance of

    first semester nursing students unit exams and standardized test scores?

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    Dorsey and Baker (2004) reviewed 16 studies which support the premise that faculty mentoring

    and support of students have a positive impact in the retention of students.

    Academic Performance

    Potolsky (2003) revealed in her study that prerequisite science courses grades have a

    relationship to the academic performance of first semester nursing students. Students who had

    higher prerequisite course grades generally performed better in their first year of nursing

    school than their counterparts with lower prerequisite course grades. The study also found that

    students performed better in the prerequisite courses than in the first semester nursing

    courses, perhaps due to their lack of understanding and ability to apply complex concepts to a

    hypothetical patient situation.

    Part-Time Employment, Age, Ethnicity

    The study conducted by Salamonson and Andrew (2006) found that working more than 16

    hours per week during the semester had a detrimental effect on students academic

    performance. Perhaps the most obvious argument for decreased academic performance in this

    scenario is less time available for studying. The study also revealed that those students who

    worked in nursing-related employment did not hold an advantage in academic performance,

    even for a nursing practice-based subject. Older students achieved better grades than younger

    students entering college soon after graduating from high school. Non-native English speakers

    of English are also are more likely to underperform academically, and have disproportionately

    higher failure rates in their first year of nursing school than native English speakers.


    Baker (2010) found that the highest rated strategies for retention of minority students were

    those that involved direct interaction of nurse faculty and students. Baker also noted that the

    most effective strategies used were: timely feedback on test performance, timely feedback on

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    clinical performance, and faculty availability. Faculty-student interaction is a vital component in

    the retention of students, and students view faculty as a key factor in their continued success in

    nursing programs (Shelton, 2003). Financial support affects access to and continuation of

    nursing school. Major factors stated by students that influenced graduation from nursing

    programs included supportive faculty, individual motivation, peer support, and belonging to

    nursing associations (Amaro, 2005).


    Mentoring Environmental Model

    The conceptual framework is based on the mentoring design of a model in which the major

    components of Mentee/Student, Environment, and Mento

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