Objective: Nursing pharmacology is a complex and content-dense course, often cited as difficult for nurse educators and students and a reason for not progressing in nursing curricula. Even nurses who experience high academic performance report feeling ill-prepared to adequately perform medication management for nursing practice in the current fast-paced environment. The objective of this five-chapter portfolio is to explain the development and implementation of a two-pronged intervention to facilitate meaningful learning of pharmacology principles within nursing students. Chapter 1 describes an overview of the approach to the intervention.

Methods: Chapter 2 describes one prong of the study intervention, the Pharmacology Phamily Project (PPP), its basis in Cognitive Learning Theory (CLT), and its outcomes and recommendations for use. The PPP addresses how to effectively learn pharmacology. Chapter 3 describes the second prong of the study intervention, an actual, unfolding, real-time case study, its basis in Transformational Learning Theory (TLT), and how it provides clinical context that first-semester nursing school students may lack. The case study introduces motivation for learning pharmacology. Chapter 4 describes implementation of the two-prong study intervention, Context and Motivation for learning. An intervention group received both prongs and the comparison group received traditional pharmacology education. Meaning learning (ML) was an intermediate learning outcome, and Learning Achievement, as a traditional outcome, evaluated the effectiveness of the two-pronged intervention.

Conclusion: Chapter 5 summarizes the potential impact of the ML approach for nursing educators and students, as well as a program of research for meaningful learning across health professions education.

Date of publication

Fall 12-14-2021

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Ellen Fineout-Overholt, PhD, RN, FNAP, FAAN; Danita Alfred, PhD, RN, Jayne Josephsen, EdD, RN, CCCTM, CHPN


PhD in Nursing

Available for download on Thursday, December 14, 2023