Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Jeris, Laurel

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education


Nurses--In-service training--Attitudes; Nursing--Study and teaching (Continuing education)


The primary purpose of this study was to seek clarity about the unique contribution that cohort model education makes to informal learning in registered nurse/bachelor of science in nursing degree-completion process for registered nurses and the relationship of informal learning to educational and career goals. Through techniques of grounded theory methodology, participants in this study identified and described learning through a discussion of events, processes, and factors that contributed to their learning experiences. Nurses described a sense of group identity resulting from interactions with other cohort members during the cohort education experience. The cohort model of education influenced aspects of the nurses' learning through factors such as group personality, group bonding and trust, group pride, group power, subgroup formation, and diversity issues. Interview data from 19 RN/BSN graduates yielded six core themes that described their informal learning during cohort-model degree completion. The six learning themes included academic success skills, communication, leadership, personal development, professional development, and teamwork. Subcategories of each theme were identified with their associated properties that characterized the emergence and scope of the theme of informal learning. Data from group interviews with 18 RNBSN faculty members contributed information from another dimension regarding the students' perceived learning, group dynamics, teaching processes, and other related factors. Learning that occurred during the cohort RN/BSN degree-completion experience expanded nurses' field of vision in regard to their personal and professional identities. The Window of Awareness Model depicts the sense of heightened awareness that nurses described as resulting from their learning experiences. The model shows the six themes of informal learning embedded in the cohort experience, which includes the elements of group dynamics that the nurses indicated had an overall influence on their learning. This study was undertaken to provide faculty and planners of continuing education with information leading to the development and implementation of learning environments best suited for the professional degree-completion student. It contributes to the theoretical frameworks of informal learning and cohort education from the unique perspective of the registered nurse. Information may also be used in application toward the training of adult educators.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [138]-147).


x, 167 pages




Northern Illinois University

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