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Changing goal orientation in nursing students: A mixed -method study

Elaine A. Caine Gardner, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This mixed-method study examined approaches for changing the goal orientation of nursing students. Participants were 58 first year associate degree nursing students in five colleges. The students, ranging in age from 19 to 50, were predominately female. ^ The study had two phases: a quantitative and a qualitative phase. In the quantitative phase, the students experienced an intensive teaching intervention aimed at increasing mastery goal orientation. Data were gathered in a pre- and posttest format using a goal orientation inventory. Students solved nursing problems in groups over a 3-week period of time. Control groups did not receive the teaching intervention, but solved the same nursing problems. After the quantitative study was completed, students in the qualitative phase of the study were selected. A case study format was used, in which those students were purposefully selected if they changed or did not change after the intervention. The qualitative data were triangulated using the students' reflective essays written on the last research day, student observations in either classrooms or laboratory settings, mastery goal orientation examples, and care plans. ^ These two phases in the mixed-method study have led to increased understanding about mastery and performance goal orientation, whether goal orientation can be taught in a classroom setting. The quantitative finding revealed that the experimental group had significant changes as a result of the intervention, while the control group did not have significant changes. The qualitative interviews revealed that the mastery and performance descriptions, regardless of posttest scores, were very similar among participants. They described the mastery and performance constructs that they were taught. The changes reported by the participants were either self-awareness or clinical practice changes. Some participants described changes that were in part reflective of the research process; (e.g., using groups to solve problems in clinical settings). The participants' descriptions of their changed qualities also revealed interesting, unanticipated research findings which included increases in self-esteem, communication, and goal setting. ^

Subject Area

Education, Community College|Health Sciences, Education|Education, Educational Psychology|Health Sciences, Nursing|Psychology, Cognitive

Recommended Citation

Gardner, Elaine A. Caine, "Changing goal orientation in nursing students: A mixed -method study" (2001). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3016313.