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A Comparison of Perceptions of Online and Face-to-Face Learners in the Same Associate Degree Nursing Program

, Northcentral University, United States

Northcentral University . Awarded


Online nursing education programs offer the potential to alleviate the critical shortage of registered nurses in the United States. Although online education has been widely studied, there have been no studies comparing the perceptions of learners enrolled in online with those enrolled in face-to-face learning in a prelicensure nursing program. The purpose of this quantitative study was to compare perceptions of learners enrolled in an online track with perceptions of learners enrolled in a face-to-face track of the same prelicensure nursing education program. Participants included 20 online learners and 59 face-to-face learners in an associate degree nursing (ADN) program of a large community college in Central Texas. All participants either had graduated in December 2010 or were candidates for graduation in May 2011. Participants completed an online survey with 20 Likert-type items to indicate perceptions of didactic content, learner-instructor interaction, and the learning environment. As data did not meet the assumptions for parametric statistics, Mann-Whitney U tests were performed to evaluate the ranked differences in the independent variables between the online and face-to-face groups. There were no significant ranked differences for perceptions of didactic content, p = .76, learner-instructor interaction, p = .30, and learning environment, p = .80. The results were aligned with existing research findings in other areas, according to which the perceived differences between online and face-to-face instruction were not significant. The findings could be used to initiate a dialogue among nurse educators about the value of online prelicensure nursing education programs. Suggestions for future research include qualitative research to elicit more detailed learner responses, correlational studies including demographic factors, evaluations of specific learning styles and experiences with online learning, and studies of factors impeding or facilitating completion. Documentation of perceptions of learners studying other professional disciplines, such as dentistry, medicine, and veterinary medicine, would also be valuable.


Ayars, V.D. A Comparison of Perceptions of Online and Face-to-Face Learners in the Same Associate Degree Nursing Program. Ph.D. thesis, Northcentral University. Retrieved August 5, 2021 from .

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