A Comparison Of Traditional Face-To-Face And Hybrid Pediatrics and Obstetrical Nursing Courses
Distance learning is rapidly spreading across various institutions as a main methodology in the delivery of curriculum. As schools of nursing are faced with mandates to increase enrollment to meet the demands of the nursing shortage with limited resources (financial and human capital) some institutions are offering complete programs online while others are gradually integrating this methodology through hybrid instruction (51% face-to-face and 49% online). Such a shift in educational modality brings with it a commensurate concern with equivalency of educational content. Is student performance equivalent or, perhaps even superior, in one modality versus another? Does content make a difference in the effectiveness of a particular modality? This study compared four groups of students who were enrolled in the Associate Degree in Nursing program at a community college in southeast Texas. Two courses, pediatrics and obstetrics (OB), were taught in the fall 2010 semester. Each had a section delivering course content in the traditional face-to-face lecture and a second via hybrid delivery. This was the students’ first experience with distance learning nursing courses. Historically, students have higher performance outcomes (grades) in pediatric courses compared to obstetric courses. Thus, an evaluation of modality across differing content was also important. The study was a descriptive comparative design of Content (2) x Modality (2) that examined student performance outcomes on unit exams, final exams, and the Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI), a specialty test for pediatrics and OB. This design allowed an examination of the equivalence of the delivery methodologies across different nursing content and provided for the assessment of both content and modality contribution to educational performance outcomes. Results indicated clear equivalences across modalities for both content areas. Improvement across time was seen in the hybrid groups but not observed in the face-to-face classes within content areas, which essentially offset initial lower performance in hybrid courses. This finding suggests that the newer and more unfamiliar format of hybrid courses may pose an initial challenge for students, but students quickly adapt and perform at equivalent levels as their face-to-face counterparts by mid-semester with no significant differences in end-point or HESI performance.