Exploring the experiences of mature nursing and non-nursing students' on fulltime undergraduate courses - a quantitative study
Citation:FLEMING, SANDRA, Exploring the experiences of mature nursing and non-nursing students' on fulltime undergraduate courses - a quantitative study, Trinity College Dublin.School of Nursing & Midwifery, 2019
Sandra Fleming revised Thesis March 2019 final for pdf.pdf (PhD Thesis, examined and approved) 5.752Mb
In keeping with European and international trends Ireland's education policy has been underpinned by the commitment to equity of access to higher education (HE). This has resulted in a change in the higher education landscape whereby we have seen an increase in non-traditional student entrants to third level education, most notably in the mature student cohort undertaking fulltime undergraduate courses. These changes within the education landscape are not without challenges both to the individual student but also to the Higher Education Institution (HEI). Some of the challenges for the students and the HEI relate to how the mature student gains entry to and is supported to have a positive experience of tertiary education. Study Aim: This study aimed to explore the experiences of mature nursing and non-nursing students on fulltime undergraduate courses including their experience of HEI support structures in preparing to enter the HEI, fitting into and staying on the course relative to their overall HEI experience. Design A quantitative descriptive cross sectional survey design was selected for the study. An anonymous self-administered electronic web-based survey was used to explore the experiences of a cross section of mature nursing and non-nursing students from nineteen schools / departments across seven HEI's who were at varying stages in course of study (year 1 through to year 4), so that the totality of the student experience could be explored. Descriptive statistics were used to describe the profile of the participants and logistic regression was used to provide further in-depth examination of the study population (n=361). Data generated from open questions were analysed using content analysis. Findings The overall mature student experience, both prior to commencing and during their course, was a positive one with no major significant differences found between nursing and non-nursing mature students. The mature student cohort is this study came into higher education (HE) with an academic advantage in so far as the majority had attained completion of secondary and post secondary education. Wanting a career change was identified as the main reason for commencing their studies. Preparation for HE was critical in terms of personal preparation for commencing study, particularly in relation to organising finances, external responsibilities and commitments. Participants identified that they couldn't take up their course offer without financial assistance so securing finances in terms of an education grant or paid employment was necessary. The support offered by the HEI both prior to entry and during the course was advantageous to the student. Using HEI support services both at pre-entry and during their course of study were predictive for students been happy with their course of study, not reporting to have study or time management issues and taking responsibility for their learning. Help with household chores was predicative of students who had considered leaving the course, staying on course, and students who had a regular study pattern were less likely to report that they considered leaving their course. Participants faced a number of challenges to stay on their course, namely financial burden associated with attending the HEI and balancing family and course time. Participants who considered leaving their course cited the stress associated with balancing family and course, financial struggles and being overwhelmed by course workload as the main reasons. The main motivators that helped participants stay on their course were being on the right course and participant's sheer determination to succeed. Conclusion: Creating a culture of student success starts with the first contact the prospective student has with the third level institution and for the mature student this is usually the HEI website. For some participants in the study they were not aware of the availability of pre-entry courses offered by their HEI or the support for mature students. Potential students need more signposting and transparency on websites in relation to financial assistance, course information and support services to potential students. All HEI?s School / Departments Webpages should have links to the mature students office and mature student supports. Students who prepared both financially and academically prior to commencing their course were happy with their course and their HEI experience of the support services. The importance of student preparation before entry needs to be stressed in all HEI's. As the majority of mature students have external responsibilities providing course timetables in a timely fashion allows students to make arrangements to attend HE is advisable.
Author: FLEMING, SANDRA
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Nursing & Midwifery. Discipline of Nursing
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available