Date of Award

Winter 1992

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Stephen W. Tonelson

Committee Member

Gregory H. Frazer

Committee Member

Katharine C. Kersey

Committee Member

Robert Lucking

Committee Member

Donald A. Myers


The problem studied in this investigation was whether different instructional methods could increase the assessment skills and affect reporting patterns of child abuse and neglect among undergraduate students majoring in nursing.

Two hundred and nineteen nursing students were selected for inclusion in the study from two urban universities located in Hampton Roads, Virginia. The sample was predominantly female (91.3%), African-American (79.9%) and mostly under 25 years of age (67.1%).

A programmed instruction manual, Child Abuse and Neglect, a pretest booklet, and a posttest booklet were developed specifically for this research. The pretest booklets and posttest booklets contained vignettes and questions developed by and used with the permission of Zellman (1990), and Dukes and Kean (1989).

The nonequivalent control-group design was selected for this quasi-experimental study. The responses of students to a series of questions regarding the assessment of child abuse and neglect and the legal obligations of mandatory reporters in Virginia were pretested.

Students were then given instructions on the assessment of child abuse and neglect and the legal responsibility of mandatory reporters. The control group was instructed by the lecture and discussion method while the experimental group completed a programmed instruction manual. Both the control group and the experimental group were retested approximately 30 days later in order to assess differences in retention.

Programmed instruction is viable as an alternative method of instruction on the topic of child abuse and neglect for undergraduate nursing students. Further, students who are instructed using the programmed instruction manual are able to acquire and retain information on the topic equally as well as those students who are instructed by the more traditional method of lecture and discussion.

Correlation coefficients on the data revealed that only 4 of 72 responses to the vignettes were significantly correlated with the type of instruction. Therefore, the effect of programmed instruction as compared with the lecture and discussion method on the responses of students to vignettes remains inconclusive.