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Third-year nursing student’s physiological knowledge retention

Faculty Advisor




physiology, nursing education, undergraduate education, knowledge retention, nursing students, teaching and learning in physiology

Abstract (summary)

Anatomy and physiology are considered foundational courses in medical, nursing and allied-health care programs. However, there is a growing concern that students struggle to retain this essential knowledge over time. Numerous studies have demonstrated the difficulty of medical, nursing and allied healthcare students to retain and apply anatomical knowledge as they progress through their programs of study (Doomernik et al., 2017). However, physiological knowledge retention has not been studied as extensively as anatomical knowledge retention in health care disciplines, with very few studies focusing on nursing students (Aari et al., 2004). Of those studies, most are conducted after graduation (Aari et al., 2004) or are focused on a single or a limited number of organ systems (Pourshanazari et al., 2013). The present study aims to determine the level of physiological knowledge retained by nursing students in the third year between completing their physiology course in first-year nursing and third-year Nursing Care of Families with Young Children course. To answer this question, nursing students were quizzed on ten organ systems using the online quizzing system Kahoot. Each Kahoot quiz included nine to eleven knowledge and comprehension-level multiple-choice questions. These scores were compared to first-year quiz scores on the same content to determine overall knowledge retention over two years. Data were statistically analyzed using SPSS II, and means were compared using 2-sample t-tests. The scores are described for each organ system by reporting the mean and standard deviation (±SD). Statistical significance was set at P < 0.05 for all tests. The mean score of questions from all organ systems in year one was 62.89 ± 10.49 (±SD). Comparing that score to matched test items evaluated in the Nursing Care of Families with Young Children course, there is a decrease in the overall mean score from 62.89 ± 10.49 (±SD) to 50.95 ± 13.02 (±SD). This equates to an 88.06% retention rate, or 11.94% knowledge loss within two years. Organ-specific knowledge retention was highest for inflammation (100%), respiratory physiology (99.10%), and vascular physiology (95.01%), followed by blood (89.16%), digestive physiology (86.28%), endocrinology (83.76%), defences (82.50%) and renal physiology (82.19%). Retention was comparatively lower for fluid and electrolyte balance (79.36%) and reproductive physiology (77.54%). These results demonstrate a high level of knowledge retention overall, with variations in retention being system specific. The level of knowledge retention in this study was significantly higher than previous rates reported in medical and allied-health students (Pourshanazari et al., 2013) and higher than anatomical knowledge retention levels in the same population (Narnaware and Neumeier, 2021). However, knowledge retention in the third year is not significantly different from the second year (Narnaware et al., 2021).

Publication Information



Presented April 20–23, 2023 at the American Physiology Summit, held at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, CA, United States.

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