CULTURE OF NURSING SCHOOL: STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS

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Abstract

School culture is a powerful structure that facilitates understanding the behaviors of the participants through their school life. A positive and effective school culture brought about numerous benefits such as improving the commitment to the school, creating trust and preventing conflicts. In this study, perceptions of school culture among students enrolled in schools of nursing were investigated. The study is a descriptive one, which was performed with the participation of 625 students enrolled in four schools that offer nursing education. A “personal information form” and a “school culture scale” were used for data collection. The findings revealed that instructor-student relations subcategory of the scale (X=2.04) was the most positively perceived cultural characteristic for the students. It was also observed that student perception differ with respect to schools (p<.05) and there was a positive correlation between students’ satisfaction about their schools and their perception of school culture. The study sets forth that students’ perception of school culture positively contributes to their satisfaction with the school; therefore nursing students’ perception of school culture should be improved. In future studies, the factors that influence nursing students’ perception of school culture should be a more detailed examination .

Introduction

School culture is one of the most complex and important concepts in education. School culture is a powerful structure that facilitates understanding the behaviors of the participants through their school life (Stoll, 1998). In recent years, the recognition of a strong school culture as one of the most important factors in enhancing schools’ effectiveness and success has further increased the interest in this issue. (Dumay, 2009; Ozdemir, 2006). School culture is defined as the basic assumptions, norms, values and artifacts that are shared by school members, which influence their functioning at school (Engels et al., 2008). School culture is defined, in a different way, as the set of rules, norms, beliefs, traditions and values, which accumulated throughout the history of the school and are shared by all individuals at school; which constitute the identity of the school, influence the functioning of school members at school; and which define the social image of the school (Hoy, 1990; Maslowski, 2001; Stoll, 1998). The values, attitudes, beliefs and practices present within an organization are widely shared and accepted in organizations with strong cultures (Erdem & Isbası 2001; Pratt et al., 1999; Robbins, 1993). Strong school culture emerges when managers, teachers and students unite around common values, norms, beliefs and practices. It was reported that, in schools with strong cultures, the academic staff felt better and more motivated, individuals were open to changes and innovation, and feelings of self-confidence, sharing, and appreciation were developed among members (Ozdemir, 2006; Terzi, 2007). In addition, it was emphasized that there was a work environment based on mutual trust and cooperation in which moral values and responsibilities were given priority, professional passion and excitement were promoted, sense of quality has become a tradition, and an intimate atmosphere was created (Ozdemir, 2006; Terzi, 2007; Staber, 2003). Research also indicates that academic achievements of students who experienced such a positive and socially-developed atmosphere were high, and a school with a strong culture positively influenced students’ academic achievements (Dumay, 2009). Besides, it was emphasized that a positive and effective school culture brought about numerous benefits such as improving the commitment to the school, creating trust in the school and its administration, preventing conflicts, and increasing school’s overall success, motivation and efficiency by shaping the behaviors and expectations of instructors and students (Erdem & Isbası, 2001; Terzi, 2007). Investigations on school culture provide valuable data about how the existing practices at the school should be improved (Erdem & Isbası, 2001). One method of investigating the school culture is to examine the opinions of managers, instructors and students, who take part in the formation of this culture and who are also influenced by this culture (Kantek, 2005).It is indicated that the most effective tool of promotion in increasing the school’s publicity and attractiveness, and thus ensuring its success and development is the evaluative discussions that students conduct with other students and other people around them (Yelkikalan et al., 2006). Schools should be aware of their cultures in order to advertise themselves to students, attract students, and survive in the competitive environment (Yelkikalan et al., 2006). Students’ opinions on school culture significantly contribute to the endeavors of increasing quality and efficiency in education, improving educational processes, and enhancing the effectiveness of the basic educational functions of schools (Erdem & Isbası, 2001; Stoll, 1998; Wren, 1999). Therefore, in order the schools to maintain their function, they should be aware of their own culture and how it is perceived (Yelkikalan et al., 2006). In the literature it was emphasized that research had been conducted on school culture in higher education institutions from different disciplines, and there was not a strong school culture in these schools but it should be improved (Argon & Kösterelioğlu, 2009; Erdem & Isbası, 2001; Yelkikalan et al., 2006; Yıldız & Bakır, 2006; Yılmaz & Oğuz, 2005). However, there is not sufficient information about the school cultures of Nursing Schools in Turkey. Kantek and Baykal (2009) investigated the Nursing Schools’ culture with respect to their academic staff and concluded that the strongest cultural feature in these schools was the “student-oriented education”, and also the culture of nursing schools should be strengthened. In addition to this, in both national and international literature, any information on how student nurses perceived their schools’ culture could not be found. Due to all these reasons, this study aims at investigating the cultures of institutions which provide Nursing education in Turkey from with regard to students’ opinions. The data to be obtained from the data are thought to contribute in improving student-instructor relations, creating transformation strategies for nursing schools, decreasing the school leave rates and establishing a positive school environment. Methods Participants The research was conducted in four schools that offer nursing education in two different cities in Turkey. Two of the schools were High School of Nursing (Schools A and C) and two of them are High School of Health (schools B and D). One of the nursing schools was in a state university, the other one was in a private university. Both High Schools of Health were in state universities. All 2nd-, 3rd- and 4th-year students enrolled in these schools were included in the scope of the research. First-year students were not included since it was thought that they were in the process of orientation and that they did not have sufficient knowledge about their schools’ culture

CULTURE OF NURSING SCHOOL: STUDENTS’ PERCEPTIONS