Learning nursing during the COVID-19 pandemic: The importance of perceived relatedness with teachers and sense of coherence

Britt Karin Utvær, Tove Engan Paulsby, Hanne Torbergsen, Gørill Haugan


Background and objective: In March 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic infected populations worldwide. To limit the spread, many countries declared stay-at-home orders. Teachers were suddenly obliged to teach and facilitate learning online, whereas students had to manage online education alone from home. Within self-determination theory (SDT), the need for relatedness is considered crucial for personal growth, well-being, motivation and learning, whereas sense of coherence (SOC) is a salutogenic health concept explaining humans’ coping with stressful situations. The aim of this study was to investigate the importance of teacher relatedness as well as SOC, including the concepts of comprehensibility, manageability and meaningfulness, among nursing students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Methods: Survey data were collected from 329 nursing students at a large university in Norway. Twelve hypotheses of the associations between teacher relatedness, SOC and perceived learning were tested by means of structural equation modelling (SEM) using Stata.

Results: The SEM yielded an acceptable fit (χ2 = 177.60, p = .000, df = 80, χ2/df = 2.22, RMSEA 0.063, CFI = 0.96, SRMR = 0.048), showing significant, positive relationships between the latent variables of teacher relatedness, SOC and perceived learning. Eleven out of the twelve hypotheses found support, showing both direct and indirect relationships between the latent variables.

Conclusions: The study indicates that caring and close teachers seem very important for nursing students’ learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students do not experience such a teacher relationship, resulting in difficulties studying and learning under crisis. Knowledge about how teachers may mobilize care and close relationships with nursing students is important for students’ learning during a pandemic situation when teaching go digital.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5430/jnep.v11n10p9

Journal of Nursing Education and Practice

ISSN 1925-4040 (Print)   ISSN 1925-4059 (Online)

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