Today, nursing qualities gain strong recognition in many academic facilities because millions of people around the globe choose this field for employment. Both developed and developing countries are interested in creating solid learning opportunities for students and attracting the attention of multiple stakeholders. The development of an evaluation process includes data collection, analysis, communication, and exchange of knowledge. In this project, certain program evaluation standards will be followed to investigate the benefits shortages of one nursing school program that covers traditional education with hybrid approaches to implement online courses for students. Each country has a number of colleges and universities where nursing specialties are properly identified and promoted. In the United States, nursing schools are highly popular, and the program of Albany State University is chosen for evaluation. Students get a chance to apply for an Associated of Science in Nursing (ASN) with the traditional track, the evening track, and the hybrid track (“Nursing associate degree programs,” n.d.). The main idea of the Hybrid ASN Track of the ASN Program is the necessity to come to campus once a week and complete tasks online.
Regarding the current pandemic challenges and the conditions under which people have to study and work, the possibility to continue education online and follow social isolation requirements is accurate for the American population. According to Lockee (2021), online courses have already changed the way of how education is delivered to support continuity of instruction and promote flexibility. The program offered by Albany State University is an outcome of such current academic and social needs. With time, hybrid courses become available as they allow combining online learning and classroom meetings (Smith et al., 2018). The virtual part supplements the class part, and students are able to obtain new information, practice, exchange experiences, and cooperate. In nursing, hybrid or blended education may be characterized by many advantages, and one of them is the possibility to develop information and communications technology (ICT) skills (Sáiz-Manzanares et al., 2020). Therefore, it is not a surprise for many academic facilities, including colleges, universities, and schools, to choose hybrid programs to replace traditional ways of teaching with online courses.
Nursing school hybrid programs aim at promoting the best practices for student education in the post-COVID-19 era. On the one hand, it is possible to visit classes regularly but not as frequently as it used to be and develop the necessary communication and practical skills. On the other hand, students have to spend much time online to learn the material, complete tasks, and participate in discussions (Sáiz-Manzanares et al., 2020). As a result, social isolation has a minimal negative effect on people’s communication skills and cooperation, and information exchange continues under any conditions. Students must meet deadlines, visit forums, and read all the instructions carefully. All these are the elements of the Hybrid ASN Program for Albany State University students.
Albany State University is a complex with a number of departments and colleges. The chosen program is a part of the course at Darton College for Health Professions, the purpose of which is to enhance transformative educational experiences through innovation, teamwork, and compassion. There are three main departments in this college, namely Nursing, Health Sciences, and Health and Human Performance. Students can apply for the Hybrid ASN Program if they have Health Science as their major and Nursing as their second major (“Hybrid program,” n.d.). Application to this program ends each spring semester during the odd year (“Hybrid program,” n.d.). Therefore, it is important for potential participants to calculate their opportunities and choose an appropriate moment. There are five semesters that are divided between two academic years (three semesters in the first year and two semesters in the second year). The Hybrid Track tells about campus visits once per week (or even twice if clinical limitations are not critical). Courses usually contain lectures, tests, and thematic clinical experiences that last from 8 AM until 5 PM in total. Other assignments have to be completed online according to the standards of the chosen format.
Each semester has its goals and specific courses to make sure students are eligible for nursing practice. For example, the first semester focuses on the development of students’ basic skills as nurses, and attention is paid to “Fundamentals of Nursing” and “Pharmacology for Nurses.” The second semester needs improvements and specifications; thus, “Adult Health” is introduced and spread through several semesters (“Hybrid program,” n.d.). Such topics as “Psychiatric Nursing,” “Care of Women and Children,” and “Nursing Leadership” are also critical for the participants of this program. There are several clinical assignments for each course, and students may check the appropriateness of their theoretical knowledge separately.
Another important component of the program is its application because students need to meet a number of requirements and demonstrate high scores. For example, a minimum GP for applicants has to be 2.8 (“Hybrid program,” n.d.). All nine core classes should be completed with at least “C” or better. The presence of previous failing grades may change the situation in hybrid learning compared to traditional or evening programs. As application and learning are related to the online format, it is expected that students have access to stable Internet access and reliable technological devices. It is not enough to take tests or write academic projects. The Hybrid ASN Program supposes that young people join webinar sessions, share files, and talk online. Therefore, adequate technology and basic skills are the components of the program that students should take into consideration. The same requirements are critical for tutors because they have to understand their responsibilities like the introduction of new material and assessment of students’ knowledge.
When students succeed in applying to the Hybrid ASN Program, they have to be ready to work hard and cooperate with tutors and professional nurses. The necessity to complete online tasks and visit face-to-face meetings on campus is a component that cannot be ignored. Active participation in online discussion shows the possibilities for students to develop their skills and use their knowledge in practice. Many tests are performed on the University West Campus, and a nurse supervises each step (“Hybrid program,” n.d.). Some clinical assignments may be assessed by faculty members who obtain guidance from healthcare facilities available to the Albany State University. Regarding such an extended area of assessment and the participation of different experts, students can get all-rounded education in the field of nursing and such disciplines as Pediatrics, Women’s Health, and Adult Care.
A final element of the Hybrid ASN Program is a degree that a student earns at the end of five-semester learning. An Associated of Science in Nursing is an outcome of successful completion of the licensing exam. All Registered Nurses have to take this type of exam to prove their skills and knowledge. As a part of the program under analysis, Albany State University students should demonstrate their readiness to work as beginning nurses (“Hybrid program,” n.d.). Finally, the offered degree allows students to enter additional programs and obtain baccalaureate- or graduate-level degrees with time. Still, the program does not impose any obligations like the continuation of education or practice in a specific healthcare facility. Students are free to choose their future and define their opportunities as per their needs and wants. The Hybrid ASN Program is a great chance to combine theoretical knowledge, practice, and restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic when people are not able to visit public places and collaborate in real life.
At this moment, the goal of the program is clear and specific – to promote continuity in healthcare education. The offered degree makes it possible to enter the nursing workforce quickly and choose between options (“Hybrid program,” n.d.). One of the objectives is to promote distance education and deal with pandemic challenges. Another objective is not to forget about the importance of real communication and cooperation. Therefore, campus meetings play a significant role in this nursing school program when a traditional program is covert with an online program, which results in a hybrid program with solid opportunities for students. At the same time, hybrid programs allow students to manage their time independently, develop critical thinking, and make decisions. All these goals are identified and discussed at the beginning of the course so the participants and other stakeholders understand what they should do and expect with the Hybrid ASN Program.
Purpose of Evaluation
The Hybrid ASN Program was selected for evaluation for several reasons. First, the development of new forms of educations is in demand today because of evident social restrictions due to COVID-19. Millions of young people cannot lose their time and continue their education under the most appropriate conditions. Hybrid education consists of an interactive learning environment on the basis of learning management systems (80%) and face-to-face meetings (20%) (Sáiz-Manzanares et al., 2020). Sometimes, schools and other academic facilities prefer to change this percentage, depending on the nature of education and the current social situation. However, the main idea remains the same – hybrid programs involve more students and teachers today. Therefore, secondly, the choice of this program for evaluation is explained by the necessity to understand if the level of knowledge obtained by students with hybrid learning meets the outcomes of traditional education. Albany State University is a solid academic facility in the United States, and its colleges and departments are chosen by many Americans and foreign students. The Department of Nursing focuses on the enhancement of educational experiences and the development of professional skills.
Finally, the University has an official site, and the program under analysis is properly described and explained to all visitors. It does not take much time to learn the main characteristics of the program and understand if it is suitable for a person or not. In addition, much information about distant learning, hybrid programs, and other aspects related to COVID-19 restrictions are available online. As a result, its evaluation can be based on the information taken from the site, with a number of examples and explanations. This selection allows extending research to its possible extent and using evidence in the most effective way.
The evaluation of an education program has an impact on several people, who are also known as stakeholders. In this case, the Hybrid ASN Program has several people and organizations to invest in the program, with their needs and contributions. Teachers, administrators, and other staff members are the main developers of a school program. Their needs usually include access to resources, time management, and the organization of every academic process. To succeed in program implementation, this group of stakeholders creates appropriate schedules and explains application conditions. This hybrid program requires new applications to apply at least one month prior to submitting their applications as this procedure allows evaluating all the necessary documents and avoiding mistakes (“Hybrid program,” n.d.). As soon as students make their decisions and consider the offered program as the only one appropriate for them, teachers should have enough time to cooperate with each applicant and reduce failures.
Regarding such requirements, students and their parents may also become stakeholders because their participation and opinions define the quality of the program and its overall impact on the system of education. Students tell if they are satisfied with the possibility to study on campus and distantly and complete different types of assignments for their Associate of Science in Nursing. Their contributions vary from those of the academic staff because they cannot impact the education process directly. Still, their feedback is considered integral as it determines the success of the program and its worth for a community. Parents usually offer financial support for students to buy devices, make payments, and coordinate the first steps in the program.
This ASN program is based on clinical experiences, which means that nurses and other healthcare providers or facilities have to be defined as potential stakeholders. Although most assignments are performed online, and some tasks are held in clinical labs on campus, there should be a clinical institution that defines policies and controls all the procedures. The code of conduct is identified by clinical experts and should be followed by the academic institution and students (“Hybrid program,” n.d.). Clinicians share their knowledge and experience, observe the work of the campus, and give their recommendations for further students’ employment. Their needs are not critical for the program because they perform their role as evaluators and provide resources.
In general, the goals of this evaluation are related to the effectiveness of the hybrid education program for academic facilities and students. First, it is necessary to investigate the conditions under which students are educated, receive new material, and are assessed. Second, the staff should investigate its resources and opportunities to clarify if they are ready to work with students under such “double standard” conditions. Sometimes, it is hard for colleges to support face-to-face communication on campus and distant learning, which makes hybrid programs unique and interesting. Finally, this evaluation is a good chance to observe the COVID-situation in the state of Georgia, and Albany, in particular. Some people do not demonstrate their negative attitudes toward the restrictions related to the pandemic. Some families are challenged by their health conditions and have to postpone their education. This evaluation helps recognize the problem, expectations, and benefits of the Hybrid ASN Program offered by the Albany State University.
Hybrid program. (n.d.). Albany State University. Web.
Lockee, B. B. (2021). Online education in the post-COVID era. Nature Electronics, 4(1), 5-6. Web.
Nursing associate degree programs. (n.d.). Albany State University. Web.
Sáiz-Manzanares, M. C., Escolar-Llamazares, M. C., & Arnaiz González, Á. (2020). Effectiveness of blended learning in nursing education. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(5). Web.
Smith, A. C., Warren, J. M., Ting, S. M. R., & Taliaferro, J. D. (2018). Developing online learning in the helping professions: Online, blended, and hybrid models. Springer Publishing Company.