Students’ approaches to learning in a clinical practicum: A psychometric evaluation based on item response theory

Yue Zhao, Hoi Kei Kuan, Joyce O.K. Chung, Cecilia K.Y. Chan, William H.C. Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: The investigation of learning approaches in the clinical workplace context has remained an under-researched area. Despite the validation of learning approach instruments and their applications in various clinical contexts, little is known about the extent to which an individual item, that reflects a specific learning strategy and motive, effectively contributes to characterizing students’ learning approaches. Objectives: This study aimed to measure nursing students’ approaches to learning in a clinical practicum using the Approaches to Learning at Work Questionnaire (ALWQ). Design: Survey research design was used in the study. Settings and Participants: A sample of year 3 nursing students (n = 208) who undertook a 6-week clinical practicum course participated in the study. Methods: Factor analyses were conducted, followed by an item response theory analysis, including model assumption evaluation (unidimensionality and local independence), item calibration and goodness-of-fit assessment. Results: Two subscales, deep and surface, were derived. Findings suggested that: (a) items measuring the deep motive from intrinsic interest and deep strategies of relating new ideas to similar situations, and that of concept mapping served as the strongest discriminating indicators; (b) the surface strategy of memorizing facts and details without an overall picture exhibited the highest discriminating power among all surface items; and, (c) both subscales appeared to be informative in assessing a broad range of the corresponding latent trait. The 21-item ALWQ derived from this study presented an efficient, internally consistent and precise measure. Conclusions: Findings provided a useful psychometric evaluation of the ALWQ in the clinical practicum context, added evidence to the utility of the ALWQ for nursing education practice and research, and echoed the discussions from previous studies on the role of the contextual factors in influencing student choices of different learning strategies. They provided insights for clinical educators to measure nursing students’ approaches to learning and facilitate their learning in the clinical practicum setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)179-186
Number of pages8
JournalNurse Education Today
Volume66
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Clinical practicum
  • Item response theory
  • Learning
  • Psychometrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Education

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