Lack of recall of bioscience knowledge by nursing students

Sheila Doggrell, Sally Schaffer


Ongoing knowledge of the human biosciences is necessary for good patient outcomes and high quality patient care by nurses. However, there are no studies that have determined the long-term (months/years) recall of bioscience knowledge by nursing students. The aims of the present study included determining the recall of bioscience by nursing students attending lectures for up to 16 months, and enabling students to reflect on their recall of bioscience knowledge. To measure recall, we used the MCQs from the first semester bioscience examination, and retested the students after four, nine and 16 months. We show that the initial knowledge of gastrointestinal physiology and introductory microbiology by nursing students was about 70% and 50%, respectively. After 16 months, there was a loss of recall of the gastrointestinal physiology, but not the microbiology knowledge and the recall was similarly low (~50%) for both topics. Approximately 77% of students who completed a questionnaire to evaluate testing of gastrointestinal physiology and 67% students who completed the microbiology testing considered that the MCQ testing was a useful learning exercise. Only half or less of the students considered they had enough recall to handle further gastrointestinal-related or microbiology lectures. Given this low level of measured and perceived recall, the nursing students may not have sufficient knowledge to undertake their subsequent pharmacology or nursing units. Among the students that attended lectures, this study suggests that initiatives to improve the recall of bioscience are necessary for nursing students.


bioscience knowledge, nursing students, recall

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