Developing Students Motivation for Distance Education In Nursing

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Distance Education In Nursing and Developing Students Motivation

Developing Students Motivation for Distance Education In Nursing

Nursing And Distance Education and Proliferating Programs,AACN's Position for Distant Education,Technological Enhancers In Distant Education,The Mind Motivation Connection In Distant Education,Extrinsic Versus Intrinsic Motivation,Deception and loss of Control
Nursing And Distance Education and Proliferating Programs.

Concept of Distant Learning in Continue Nursing Education

    Distance education courses in continuing nursing education programs are rapidly increasing in number and size. Universities traditionally devoted to on campus education activities are joining the ranks of their non trade notional counterparts in offering associate, baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral programs fully or partially online. 

    Additionally, the high cost and time constraints of hospitals in providing mandatory continuing education for nursing staff has spawned the development of companies providing online courses to meet all or a portion of a nurse's biennial education requirements for relicensure. 

AACN's Position for Distant Education

    The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recognized the necessity of using distance education in today's varied educational environments for nursing. In January 2000, the AACN published a bulletin entitled Distance Education Is Changing and Challenging Nursing Education. In it, the AACN cited multiple reasons for embracing the concept of distance education for entry, advanced, and continuing nursing education. 

    Distance education is seen as a remedy to the nursing shortage, an asset in the battle against shrinking nursing faculty numbers, a way to keep nurses working while pursuing advanced education, and a way of plugging the brain drain in many communities as their skilled workers and students leave for education and never return (AACN, 2000a). 

    In the accompanying white paper, Distance Technology in Nursing Education (AACN, 2000b), the AACN defines distance education and distance education technologies and offers multiple factors for policy makers, external funders, educators in nursing and related fields, and health care institutions to consider .

    These varying supports for distance education by nursing educators, health care institutions, and nursing professionals themselves have been further enhanced by advances in technology. 

Technological Enhancers In Distant Education

    New and improved technologies such as digital subscriber lines (DSL) and cable modems have improved the speed and quality of Internet access. Web portals and virtual private networks (VPN) have made it possible to use applications such as WebCT or Blackboard to deliver real-time lectures, hold office hours, or engage in discussions in the synchronous mode. These same activities can be stored by these applications and used by learners unavailable in real time. 

    This asynchronous mode allows distance learners to benefit from their classmates despite being unavailable during the real-time activities. Online lectures can be easily burned to a CD-ROM using Microsoft Publisher and then uploaded to a network or distributed to students in person or by mail. Desktop video conferencing from a home or office computer makes individual or preceptor conferences as effortless as a phone call. 

    Wireless networks allow students access to university libraries, web portals, and instructional programs from multiple venues including neighborhood public libraries and the closest Starbucks. Cost decreases and the greater availability of technology make access to distance education a possibility and a reality for all who are motivated to participate. 

    But what does motivate the learner to participate? Are the factors for distance education similar to those for traditional education, or are there characteristics of distance learners that make them different from the traditional learner? Before answering these questions, let us turn to a general discussion of student motivation for learning. Some answers may be found in previous educational research in adult education. 

The Mind Motivation Connection In Distant Education

Extrinsic Versus Intrinsic Motivation

    What motivates the learner? Perhaps the best place to start is with the physiological basis for motivation. In The Art of Changing the Brain (Zull, 2002), this physiological basis for motivation begins with the differentiation between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Although these concepts are not new to nursing educators, viewing them in a physiological context provides a new dimension of knowledge. 

Deception and loss of Control

    Extrinsic motivators can induce or persuade students to complete tasks that lead to learning. Intrinsic motivators are automatically connected to learning; we have evolved to want them (Zull, 2002). To illustrate this in light of the learner's brain, Zull offers the explanation about what happens when a student is offered a reward or punishment (an extrinsic motivator). The first thing seen by the brain of the student in this reward or punishment situation is a loss of control. 

    This is not a conscious recognition, but one that the brain recognizes and attempts to suppress. It deciphers “deceptions like extrinsic rewards” (Zull, 2002, p. 53), and knows there is a substitution of an external reward for the current internal decision to do something by the student, that is, learn. There is no longer any reason for the student to do the thing we have asked except to obtain the reward or avoid the punishment. To the student's brain, the offer of an extrinsic reward is a disappointment.

    The brain sees through the extrinsic reward. It sees the extrinsicity. The reward is tempting, true enough, so we devise all sorts of ways to get the reward without carrying out the education, the job, or the assignment. Students seem to do this quite effectively in our colleges. Sometimes they even get A's (the reward) in courses they hardly remember taking a few months later. (Zull, 2002, p. 53)

    This is not to say that extrinsic rewards do not have their place, but because they are aimed at things outside learning (Zull, 2002), the use of these rewards should be creative and considered. As a first step in moving to intrinsic motivation for the student, extrinsic motivators can be quite useful. Extrinsic to Intrinsic.

    As an example, a learner is considering whether or not to take a distance education class. This will involve changes in lifestyle, loss of free time, an output of a considerable sum of money, and probably most important, disruption of the status quo of the learner's current comfort zone. Although the loss of all these things can be disturbing, the learner may view as a payoff an extrinsic reward such as an increase in pay or a promotion. 

    Rarely will the learner consider knowledge of a particular subject valuable for its own sake, and rarely will the pursuit of knowledge in a specific area led to satisfaction. But if the learner strives to achieve the external reward (the extrinsic motivation), that same learner may find the current pursuit of knowledge stimulating and enjoyable. 

    Thus, an extrinsic motivator may serve as a bridge to the intrinsic motivator of enjoyment of a subject; A previously unengaged student may become engaged, enthusiastic, and excited about education.

    That same learner, when faced with a particularly daunting educational task, may also use extrinsic motivators to continue the task (Zull, 2002). Writing a research paper on an unknown topic may prove tedious and boring; studying pharmacology and epistemology may prove satisfying. 

    However, the thought of an extrinsic reward, such as praise from the instructor or a high score on a pharmacology exam, may be the boost needed to keep the student pursuing the subject. Zull calls this [“sustaining] a learner at times of pressure and difficulty” (2002, p. 53).

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