Phenomenology is the study of people’s conscious experience of their lifeworld, that is, the lived experience that gives meaning to each person’s perception of a particular phenomenon (Polit & Beck, 2004). The goal of the phenomenological inquiry is to fully describe lived experiences and to depict the essence or basic structure of the experience (Merriam, 2009). In order to get to the essence of the basic underlying structure of the experience in a phenomenological study the main data source, in-depth conversations with researchers and informants as full co-participants are utilized. Through in-depth conversations, the researcher tries to gain entrance into the participant’s world in order to have full access to their experiences as lived (Polit & Beck, 2004). Merriam (2009) stated that the reader should come away from a phenomenological study feeling as if they have a greater understanding of what it was like for the person being studied to have lived an experience. Furthermore, “phenomenological research is well suited for studying affective, emotional, and often intense human experiences” (Merriam, 2009, p. 26).
Research Problem Statement
This hypothetical situation takes place at the Oklahoma City Community Hospital. Student nurses come to the profession of nursing with entry-level knowledge, skills, and judgment that is often characterized by a high level of motivation, questioning, reality testing, doubt, and a lack of confidence (Darby, 1995). Acculturation into a profession is a critical step for the novice and the profession. Ensuring students receive a positive professional socialization experience is ideal; however, in light of the literature this is not always the case as unintended consequences of educational programs and professional environments can have unpleasant outcomes (Dinmohammadi, Peyrovi, & Mehrdad, 2013). The supervisor is a nurse who mentors and coaches’ student nurses in becoming professional nurses and is seen as pivotal to student learning within the clinical environment. Although much effort has been devoted to investigating supervisors perspectives in the professional socialization process of mentoring and coaching student nurses, little in the way of research has been conducted that examines the mentoring and coaching experiences from the perspective of the student. What does the experience of good mentoring and coaching consist of? Are there any central factors that must be present for good mentoring and coaching experiences to occur? Student nurses experience of good mentoring and coaching is essentially a question of personal meaning, and the phenomenological research method lends itself to the investigation of personal meaning (Merriam & Associates, 2002). Furthermore, an in-depth understanding of what events creates good mentoring and coaching, as experienced by the student nurse, is necessary if one is to fully comprehend the relevant and crucial aspects of supervision that contribute to acquiring mentoring skills and the development of professional identity (Merriam & Associates, 2002). Therefore, the researchable problem is to explore the lived experience of what elements or events constitute good supervision for student nurses in mentoring and coaching experiences with their supervisors.
Purpose of the Research and Significance
The purpose of the proposed phenomenological design study is to explore the phenomenological experience of what elements or events constitute good supervision for student nurses as experienced by student nurses. This phenomenological research is focused on understanding the way student nurses describe and make sense of their exceptional learning, mentoring, and coaching experiences with supervisors.
Central Research Question
What are the lived experiences of student nurses’ perspectives of what elements or events constitute good supervision in mentoring and coaching experiences with their supervisors.
Description of the Sampling Criteria, Participants, and Data Collection Procedures
The phenomenological study approach of Merriam (2009) will be used to explore what are the lived experiences of student nurses’ perspectives of what elements or events constitute good supervision for the professional development of student nurses. The phenomenological study approach will provide the opportunity for an in-depth conversation with participants who lived the experience. The researcher will attempt to gain a greater understanding of perceptions of participants in order to discover and identify how the phenomenon was experienced and the shared essence of that experience (Merriam, 2009). The perspective of what elements or events constitutes good supervision for student nurses in the mentoring and coaching experiences with their supervisors is unknown. In order to make logical progress toward solving the problem, a purposive group of ten to fifteen participants will be included in the study. Inclusion criteria will include student nurses who have had exceptional learning, mentoring, and coaching experiences with their preceptors. Student nurses who have sufficient introspection to understand what positive supervision events are, who have good articulation skills, and can clearly describe their positive supervision events and what those events mean to them will be selected. The sampling strategy will be non-probability sampling. A core characteristic of non-probability sampling techniques is that samples are selected based on the subjective judgment of the researcher (Merriam & Associates, 2002). The selected sampling design will be purposive. The main goal of a purposive sampling is to focus on particular characteristics of a population that are of interest in order to enable the researcher to answer the research questions. Student nurses, who provide the richest, most detailed, and factual information describing exceptional learning, mentoring and coaching experiences with their preceptors (Merriam, 2009) will be included in the criteria. The aim of the study is to explore the lived experience of what elements or events constitute good supervision for student nurses.
Defense of Research Design
The use of a phenomenological study (Merriam, 2009) enables the researcher to fully describe the lived experiences of what elements or events constitute good supervision for student nurses. The phenomenological design is best utilized when a holistic and in-depth conversation is needed to fully describe lived experiences and to depict the essence or basic structure of the experience (Merriam, 2009). This phenomenological research will be focused on understanding the way student nurses describe and make sense of their exceptional learning, mentoring and coaching experiences with their supervisors. Findings that emerge from the phenomenological study can provide an in-depth, detailed, and intricate picture of the experience of good supervision events from the perspective of student nurses.
Phenomenological research differs from other qualitative designs in a few ways. Grounded theory strives to build a substantive theory, one that is grounded in the data collected specific to everyday world situations and, as such, is useful for addressing questions about processes that change over time (Merriam, 2009). Case study designs, on the other hand, investigates a current phenomenon within its real-life context when the boundaries between phenomenon and context are not clearly evident (Merriam, 2009). In addition, a case study explores a bounded system or case over a period of time using in-depth and comprehensive data collection. Ethnography focuses on a sociocultural interpretation. The basic qualitative design focus is on understanding how people make sense of their experiences. Phenomenology is a study of people’s conscious experience of their life world; that is, the lived experience that gives meaning to each person’s perception of a particular phenomenon. Phenomenology study is the best fit for the research intention to explore the lived experience of what elements or events constitute good supervision for student nurses that support their professional development in the nursing profession.
One key difference in the phenomenology research method, as opposed to other qualitative methods, is that it is the only design which has a purpose of providing such detailed description of a phenomenon that the reader should come away believing they now understand the experience as if the reader experienced it him or herself. The goal of the phenomenological inquiry is to fully describe the lived experience of the participant and to depict the basic structure, or essence, of the experience. The phenomenological design is the only design that focuses exclusively on cognitive processing of the phenomenon experience. The important findings derived from phenomenology are an understanding of a phenomenon as seen through the eyes of those who experienced it.
Darby, B. A. B. (1995). Professional socialization and mentoring relationships in beginning nursing practice. (332 Ph.D), University of North Florida, Jacksonville, FL. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.unf.edu/etd/332 UNF Theses and Dissertations database.
Dinmohammadi, M., Peyrovi, H., & Mehrdad, N. (2013). Concept analysis of professional socialization in nursing. Nursing Forum, 48(1), 26-34. doi:10.1111/nuf.12006
Merriam, S. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Merriam, S., & Associates. (2002). Qualitative research in practice: Examples for discussion and analysis. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Polit, D. F., & Beck, C. T. (2004). Nursing research: Principles and methods (7th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.