Dissertation Abstract

How the clinical settings of radiography programs affect learning perceptions

Publication Number:  AAT3275936
Author:  Fortsch, Peggy, Ed.D.
School:  University of Northern Iowa
Date:  2007
Pages:  246
Subject:  Education, Radiography

A main purpose of clinical education is to prepare practitioners who can deliver excellent skills and care vital to the health and safety of persons in their care and to society. Clinical education is an essential component for students pursuing careers as health care providers. The purpose of this study was to examine the place of clinical experiences in radiography programs and to describe how students and clinical instructors in three different radiography program models (bridging, external, and internal) perceived the learning experiences in clinical settings.

From the perspectives of students and clinical instructors the following questions were addressed: (1) What impact does learning in a clinical setting have on the professional preparation of radiographers? (2) Is there a difference in the way traditional and nontraditional students experience learning in a clinical setting? (3) Is there a difference in the way clinical instructors and students perceive learning in a clinical setting?

This study was exploratory and non-experimental. A qualitative approach was utilized. Through observations and interviews, data was collected. Participants in this study were selected from three different models of clinical education. Three students were selected from each of the three models. Two of the selected students were considered traditional students and one student was considered a nontraditional student from each of the three models described. The students were considered in their educational institutions as level II or second-year students. One clinical instructor was selected from each of the three program models represented. These clinical instructors provided instruction, supervision, and evaluation of students while in the clinical setting. Through on-going data analysis emergent themes were identified. This study indicated that various aspects of the clinical environment affect the quality and perception of the students' learning experiences. These themes/categories were expressed across the three radiography program settings (bridging model, external model, and internal model): (a) learning opportunities and integration of knowledge, (b) trust and fairness, (c) attitudes and socialization to radiography clinical sites and (d) supervision, evaluation, and recognition.

This study provides rich descriptions of the perceptions of students and clinical instructors in the clinical setting. These descriptions suggested bridging the gap from theory to practice was accomplished through the students' experiential learning that actively engaged the subject matter as they participated in the clinical settings throughout their respective programs. Students from all three program models recognized a connection between what was taught in the classroom and applying that knowledge in clinical practice. Clinical experiences were perceived to be valuable in the learning process in the three program models. The importance of attitudes displayed and the sense of acceptance and belonging in the social culture climate within a clinical setting was stressed throughout the three program models. In a positive encouraging environment, the learning experience was greatly enhanced.

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