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J Prof Nurs. 2017 Jan - Feb;33(1):11-19. doi: 10.1016/j.profnurs.2016.06.004. Epub 2016 Jun 18.

Nurse Educator Perceptions of the Importance of Relationship in Online Teaching and Learning.

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Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, Kent State University, Kent, OH. Electronic address:
Interim Associate Dean for Student Services and Undergraduate Education and Associate Professor, College of Education, Health, and Human Services, Kent State University, Kent, OH. Electronic address:


The purpose of this study was to understand the perceptions of teaching nursing students in online environments as experienced by nursing educators who have been teaching online for a minimum of 2 years. The study used an interview-based qualitative descriptive design. Semistructured interviews with 10 full-time nurse educators were conducted. The participants represented a range of ranks and teaching experience. Analysis involved a constant comparative process of initial and focused coding. Relationships were important to these nurse educators, and there was an interconnected nature among (a) student engagement and learning, (b) "knowing students," and (c) helping students meet their needs. Although different in how they experienced these elements, they seemed to share a sense that you have to know your students to help them meet their needs, and that you have to help them meet their needs so that they can learn, and building relationships within the online environment is key to all if this. Relationships are the heart of nursing and, for these nurse educators, a key aspect of nursing education. Having a strong relationship between nurse educators and nursing students supports student engagement in learning online. With continually increasing online nurse education, understanding these relationships is important to improve nursing education and consequently improve nursing practice.


Distance education; Nurse educator; Nursing education; Online teaching and learning; Perceptions; Relationships

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