Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Florence A. Hamrick


The growing population of older adults presents many challenges to nursing education. Curriculum design must attend to means that support students in a comprehensive approach to the often complex care that older adults require. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore how baccalaureate nursing students come to know and understand care for older adults, and apply this student perspective to curriculum and practice issues related to gerontology nursing;Eight recent graduates of a baccalaureate nursing program at a midwestern, private, liberal arts college were individually interviewed at two separate meetings. In addition, a document review was conducted of respondent-created assignments that were developed as learning tools throughout the student's undergraduate education. These interview transcripts and documents served as the data that were inductively analyzed through a constant comparative process of unitizing and categorizing. From this process four themes emerged which served to represent the data and provide the foundation for pattern analysis and interpretation. Trustworthiness was established according to Lincoln and Guba's (1986) criteria of soundness;The four emergent themes were: (1) Experience as a Growing Foundation, (2) Ways of Being, (3) Contexts of Care, and (4) Teaching and Learning Care for Older Adults. These themes were consistent with established feminist pedagogy in that life experience, relationships, and multiple ways of knowing pervaded. Students came to know and understand care for older adults by constructing knowledge based on a variety of lived experiences within a variety of contexts. Experiences that both challenged and supported the students' development were evident in the findings;The themes affirm student development theory, multiple ways of knowing, and development of caring relationships. Recommendations to inform nursing curriculum development include facilitation of experiential learning situations that: (1) Foster relationship-building with the older adult, (2) Allow for active engagement and knowledge sharing in all teaching/learning experiences, and (3) Encourage reflection on and in action to support transformational learning opportunities and meaning-making.



Digital Repository @ Iowa State University,

Copyright Owner

Debra Diane Braun Franzen



Proquest ID


File Format


File Size

204 pages