Effectiveness of experiential learning strategies

Fowler, Debra
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The aim of this experimental study was to determine if Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing (BSN) students who complete a service learning (SL) assignment within a nursing course score significantly higher on the Nursing Professional Values Scale—Revised (NPVS-R) compared to an attention control group of BSN students in the same nursing course. The SL assignment consisted of 3 hours of service at a non-profit health care organization followed by reflection facilitated through online discussion groups and reflective paper. Attention control students attended a professional nursing meeting and described their observational experience in an online discussion group and a paper.

The NPVS-R was completed by 110 students; 56 in the intervention group and 54 in the attention control group. Data were entered into the Statistical Package for Social Sciences program and analyzed using an independent t-test to test the hypothesis. Reliability of the NPVS-R was estimated using a Cronbach's alpha and demographic data was described using frequencies, measures of central tendency, and measures of spread. Findings indicated that students participating in a SL assignment scored significantly lower ( M = 99.43, SD = 11.032) than those in the attention control group (M = 105.07, SD = 11.293), (t(108) = -2.652, p = .005). The results not only fail to support the hypothesis that students who completed a SL assignment score higher on a measure of professional values than do control group students, they provide data to indicate that students who were exposed to a more traditional educational assignment reported higher levels of professional values.

This study is the first to apply experimental research methods to analyze the relationship between SL and professional values development and it calls into question the assumptions held about the validity of SL. Further research is needed to provide evidence of the efficacy of this educational strategy.

Health and environmental sciences, Education, Evidence-based teaching, Experiential learning, Nursing education, Professional values, Service-learning