Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Center for the Advancement of Education


S. V. Martoana


The purpose of this Major Applied Research Project was to investigate the variance in perceptions of faculty and students of the adequacy of death content in the curricula of the Wisconsin associate degree nursing programs. No prior research in this area could be found. About fifty-five percent of the 42,000 registered nurses in Wisconsin were prepared for practice by associate degree programs. Five hundred to eight hundred and fifty second-year students receive their basic education and graduate from the fifteen programs offering the associate degree yearly. Prior to this study there was no indication of the quality and quantity of death content that was required in these programs. Obtaining information on death instruction, and faculty and student perceptions of the sufficiency and adequacy of coverage for entry into nursing practice, was helpful to all schools of nursing for curricular planning. Support and encouragement for the project was received from the state nursing consultant for vocational, technical and adult education as well as the program administrators for all fifteen Wisconsin ADN programs. Six research questions were examined. The questions dealt with faculty and student perceptions of the adequacy of death content in the Wisconsin associate degree nursing programs. The question of amount of maternity nursing content was compared to death content. The actual number of hours spent on death issues was examined for each school as well as the context of content. The perceptions of faculty of the fifteen Wisconsin associate degree nursing programs and the perceptions of all 528 second-year students within three to six months of graduation were included in this descriptive study. A separate questionnaire was developed and administered to faculty and to students. There was a 100 percent response to each questionnaire. The fifteen faculty questionnaires were completed by each program administrator. Each administrator met with the entire faculty of the school and answered the questions according to the consensus expressed by the entire group. This method of reporting consensus is mandated to nursing schools by the National League of Nursing, the national accrediting body. The student questionnaire was administered to all 528 second-year students with 528 responses. For treatment of data a t-test and chi-square were used as well as a variety of descriptive statistics. The probability level for statistical significance of the t-test and chi-square was set at 0.05. A comparison of curriculum content hours relating to death emphasis and those relating to birth was also conducted. The topic of birth was selected for comparison because birth and death are common experiences to all patients. Principal findings were drawn from the data pertinent to each group studied. Fourteen of fifteen faculty groups perceived death instruction as adequate. Student responses were nearly evenly divided with 45 percent stating they were not prepared, 55 percent stating that they were prepared, in school to deal effectively with death and grief situations. Application of the chi-square test to these two groups of students substantiates that the difference is statistically significant. Although both a majority of the faculty groups perceived death instruction as adequate and a significantly larger percentage of students in nursing programs in Wisconsin stated that they were adequately prepared, this study found evidence that the subject of death is given only slight attention. It was found that only slight time is devoted and, further, there is no consistency in the amount of time spent focusing on death in the fifteen associate degree programs. Those results supported a conclusion that contrary to the views of faculty and students many nurses in Wisconsin are not prepared adequately to deal comfortably with death issues, or more importantly, with dying and grieving patients as they enter into practice.

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