Date of Award

12-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Educational Psychology

Major Professor

Gary J. Skolits

Committee Members

Jennifer A. Morrow, R. Steve McCallum, Jennifer Richards

Abstract

The purpose of the current study was to assess the effectiveness of the DREAMWork (Diversity Recruitment and Education to Advance Minorities in the nursing Workforce) summer high school program within the context of the substantial current and anticipated nursing shortage in the United States (Buerhaus, 2002). Previous research has shown that creating positive perceptions of nursing through programs like DREAMWork can lead to an increase in student desire to pursue a career in nursing (Cohen, Palumbo, Rambur, & Mongeon, 2004; Tomey, Schwier, Marticke, & May, 1996). More specifically, this study was interested in significant student changes (desire to pursue a career in nursing, knowledge of nursing, etc.) as a result of program participation and stakeholder perceptions of the program including student impact.

A mixed method, within subjects design was used to collect multiple quantitative and qualitative measures from program participants as well as the major stakeholders of the DREAMWork summer high school program. Descriptive analyses and paired samples t tests were used to assess the data.

Results indicate that students experienced significant improvements in knowledge of academic content related to nursing and realistic perceptions of nursing as a career. Overall perceptions of the program by all stakeholder groups were overwhelmingly positive; students enjoyed learning new things and participating in new experiences; other stakeholders highly rated the importance of the DREAMWork program goals and the impact of the program on the student participants.

Implications of the findings will be discussed along with potential reasons for results that were not significant. Potential changes for future DREAMWork summer program cohorts will also be explored. For future study, a longitudinal design is recommended as well as the incorporation of more consistent measures across all stakeholder groups.

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