Community college radiologic technology student perceptions of and experiences with simulation-enhanced educational activities
Tucker, Jamie S.
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ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to explore and describe the experiences and perceptions that second year radiologic technology students had of simulation-enhanced educational activities at a large, urban community college in the southeast of Texas. This study focused on the experiences that second-year students had with simulation during their enrollment in a radiologic technology program, and their perceptions regarding the acquisition of knowledge, communication skills, and psychomotor abilities from simulation-enhanced activities. Additionally, the study explored how participating students perceived the usefulness of simulation activities in relation to the application of concepts and theories of radiologic technology in the clinical setting. Simulation is a teaching technique that establishes a learning environment that is analogous to a clinical setting without endangering patient health or safety. Simulation techniques can provide students with opportunities to learn in the cognitive, affective, and psychomotor domains. Understanding the perceptions and experiences students express of simulation-enhanced activities may provide educators with the insight of the overall student satisfaction with this teaching technique. This qualitative study incorporated a collective case study research design to aid higher education institutions in understanding student perceptions and experiences related to the use of simulation-enhanced educational activities in radiologic technology programs. Data collection for this study included semi-structured interviews from 12 participants. In addition, field notes, documents such as institutional data and reflexive journaling were used to support the study. Open coding and triangulation methods were used to analyze the data. The data collected was used to address the research questions that guided this study. The findings of this study indicate that participation in simulation-enhanced education can be adapted to different courses of study and have a positive impact on aspects of student learning such as practicing and complimenting student learning styles. Additionally, the findings show that simulation-enhanced education activities help students acquire knowledge, understand complex material, develop appropriate communication skills and hone psychomotor abilities. Participation in simulation-enhanced education was also found to increase student confidence, facilitated the application of skills in the clinical setting, and helped students scaffold information. Increasing the understanding of student perceptions will guide and assist community college administrators in determining the most appropriate response to implementing simulation-enhanced education as an instructional method. The findings led to several implications for higher education practice. First, there is a diverse use of simulation-enhanced educational activities in radiologic technology education and participation in simulation activities had a positive impact on aspects of student learning. The second implication is that simulation helped students learn in the cognitive, affective and psychomotor domains. The third implication for higher education practice is that simulation-enhanced activities help to build confidence in learners and that earned confidence is transferred into clinical application. The implications led to several recommendations for higher education practice. The first recommendation for higher education practice is for institutions, administrators, and faculty to evaluate existing programs by analyzing the curriculum to identify areas that may benefit from the integration of simulation activities. The second recommendation for higher practice is that institutions and administrators should establish a financial plan that allocates resources for the purchase and maintenance of dedicated equipment and technology needed to conduct simulation-enhanced educational activities. The third recommendation for higher education practice is that institutions, administrators, and programs of study should compare the used of simulation to student success measures such as course completion, graduation rates, and graduate employability. The findings of this study suggest the need for future research. First, a study that could further the knowledge of simulation-enhanced educational activities is a qualitative study that explores faculty perceptions of and experiences with the use of simulation in radiologic technology education. Second, a qualitative study that explores the relationship between simulation and different learning styles could help identify if there is a relationship between specific learning styles and the use of simulation. Third, a quantitative study that compares the most common learning styles of radiologic technology students could identify if there is a strong tendency towards a specific learning style. A final recommendation for future research is a mixed methods study incorporating statistical trends along with the personal experiences of graduate radiologic technology students in their first -year transitioning into the profession of radiologic technology.