The influence of spirituality on learning for adult learners in technical college practical nursing programs
McClain, June Elizabeth
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Adult education and nursing education are two fields of study that advocate the incorporation of spirituality as a component of teaching to the whole person. Adult educators provide examples of ways to address spirituality, and some nurse educators advocate for incorporating spirituality in the curriculum as one aspect of caring for patients’ needs. The purpose of this study was to understand how adult learners perceive the influence of spirituality on their learning in practical nursing programs in technical colleges. A basic qualitative design was used to conduct the study. Eleven practical nursing students were interviewed to answer these research questions: 1. How do adult nursing students define spirituality? 2. In what ways do adult nursing students describe how spirituality is manifested in practical nursing programs in technical colleges? 3. What is the role of spirituality for students’ learning in practical nursing programs in technical colleges? Eight categories within the three research areas emerged from the data. Definitions of spirituality are: 1) belief in a higher power, 2) connection to others, self or to a higher power, and 3) putting beliefs into practice. Spiritual experiences in classes or clinicals were described as: 1) guided by God or higher power, 2) a revelation of one’s purpose for life, and 3) involving the act of prayer. The role of spirituality in learning is to: 1) assist in classroom and clinical performance and 2) instill confidence. The findings lead to three conclusions: 1) belief in a transcendent being is the most pervasive perception of spirituality for nursing student; 2) spiritual experiences for nursing students involve acts of prayer, are guided by God or a higher power, and lead to an understanding of one’s purpose in life; and 3) nursing students perceive that spirituality enhances their capacity for learning. The conclusions suggest that adult learners in nursing education programs bring their spirituality into the class, and they have spiritual experiences in classes and clinicals. Suggestions are posed for ways instructors can increase students’ awareness of their own spirituality.