Motivation Characteristics and Barriers for Distant Learners In Nursing Education

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Distant Learners In Nursing Education and Motivation Characteristics and Barriers

Motivation Characteristics and Barriers for Distant Learners In Nursing Education

Motivation and the Distance Learner In Nursing Education,Characteristics In Nursing,Motivation, and Barriers Demographic Characteristics In Distant Learner,Barriers for Distant Education In Nursing,Current Distance Education Students A Surprising Research Finding.

Motivation and the Distance Learner In Nursing Education

    Zull's premise about the connection between intrinsic rewards and education leads to a natural conclusion that if we want to help students learn, then we should find out what is already motivating them (Zull, 2002). If we don't and continue to offer only extrinsic rewards, then we take the chance of actually decreasing learning (Kohn, 1993). 

    Following this traditional line of reasoning and applying it to distance education allows us to conclude that motivation for distance learners should be tied to something that already motivates them. The answer to this motivation question becomes the answer to the more basic question, why do learners take distance education courses? Looking at the characteristics of distance learners provides more evidence. 

Distance Learner Characteristics In Nursing 

    Distance education is not a new concept; Indeed, correspondence courses have been around for decades. Research on the characteristics of distance learners has also been conducted for decades. Unfortunately, this research has been sporadic and focused on concerns of individual universities and stakeholder groups rather than systematic or evaluative in nature (Roberts, Irani, Lundy, & Telg, 2003). 

    What we are looking at in the field of distance education research is a multiplicity of studies with various learners and educational programs. We must be able to extract information from these studies that will be of use to distance education practitioners. 

    Until recently, most distance learners were considered mature and were identified by common characteristics such as valuing education and having high motivation, realistic expectations about the educational experience, competing life interests, ingrained educational patterns, life experience and a developed value system, and independence; and being achievement oriented and active learners (Benshoff & Lewis, 1992; Cranton, 1989; Cross, 1980; Rogers, 1989). 

    Indeed, if a survey of literature on adult distance learners was done, a framework of these characteristics could easily be applied. A general belief about adult distance learners supported the idea that high motivation was a key to their success in anything from correspondence courses to web-based videoconferencing. 

    These distance learners were not the students who spent time on a typical college campus-not the typical nursing students would hope to attract to entry-level programs in 4 year colleges. Distance learners of this ilk seem to be those attracted to accelerated entry level programs, in need of continuing education, or working professionals desiring advanced level education. 

Motivation, and Barriers Demographic Characteristics In Distant Learner

    A 1995 study by Mac Brayne is applicable to one of the groups potentially attracted to nursing education. The demographic and motivational characteristics of 672 rural adult distance-education learners in an associate degree program were evaluated by questionnaire. Of the 13 reasons listed for participating in distance education, course location and interest in the course content were cited by these learners as the most important. 

    Other reasons in the top ten were the importance of the course for a future career and the desire to obtain a degree (MacBrayne, 1995). Applying the framework of characteristics of adult learners, there is a match between the framework and motivational qualities: degree seeking, information seeking, achieving goals, and enhancement of job ability (MacBrayne,1995). 

    As Knowles (1970) points out, these characteristics are also what make adults different from children when coming to an educational experience. These motivational qualities are not unique to the distance education venue; they can be seen in adult learners on campus. 

    Rossman (1993) indicates that students engaged in distance education are not typical of adolescents going to college on a residential campus. As more mature and self disciplined students, distance learners already had some college experience and sought distance education courses either to accelerate or finish their undergraduate education (Rossman, 1993). 

    A further characteristic noted by both Rossman and MacBrayne (1995) was that most of the participants were female. In Rossman's study, two thirds of the participants were female and cited unaffordable or inadequate childcare as reasons for participating in distance education. 

Barriers for Distant Education In Nursing 

    Barriers to typical educational activities are often the motivators for participating in distance education. Lack of time, costs, home responsibilities, job responsibilities, lack of self-confidence, and lack of interest often lead students to seek distant educational activities (Cardenas, 2000; Hyatt, 1992; MacBrayne, 1995). 

    Learners who perceive these barriers to their continued education often find that the control of time, place, and pace of education offered by distance education is extremely attractive (Wallace, 1996). Adults who claim they are too old to learn or who dislike the idea of group work in organized, on-campus classes are drawn to the independent and solitary nature of distance education opportunities. 

    Those who lack confidence in their own abilities either to finish a course or keep up in the course are also drawn to this venue (Grace, 1994).Although it is clear that there are demonstrated differences between distance learners and traditional students in their reasons for engagement, it is also clear that there are significant differences in their perceived barriers and motivators in distance education. 

    Typical adolescents have no issues with being too old to learn. They may be too busy partying to learn, but rarely perceive themselves as incapable of learning. They also do not usually have barriers to learning such as childcare, job, and family issues. It would seem that their participation in distance education activities would be minimal. 

    Yet, recent research shows that younger students are also taking advantage of distance education courses. These “second generation” distance learners are also drawn to this venue. What is their motivation for taking advantage of distance education opportunities on a residential campus? What motivates them to start, continue, and complete those classes?

Current Distance Education Students A Surprising Research Finding

    Much research has been devoted to the highly motivated, mature student who participates in distance education activities. However, a study by Qureshi, Morton, and Antosz in 2002 demonstrated a surprising twist on the characteristics of distance learners. 

    In survey research at a Canadian university, 120 distance learners and 120 on campus students (the control group) were randomly selected to participate; 174 respondents (79 distance learners) answered a questionnaire designed to assess demographic characteristics, experience related to computer skills, motivation to enroll in distance or on campus courses, and barriers to education (Qureshi et al., 2002). 

    Four models corresponding to the framework seen in previous studies of the more mature learners were examined: a demographic model, an experiential model, a motivational model, and an inhibitory model (Qureshi et al., 2002). The experiential model that examined previous distance education and computer experience was not studied in previous research on distance education.

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